The cysteine desulfurase IscS is required for synthesis of all five thiolated nucleosides present in tRNA from Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium

J Bacteriol. 2002 Dec;184(24):6830-5. doi: 10.1128/JB.184.24.6830-6835.2002.


Deficiency of a modified nucleoside in tRNA often mediates suppression of +1 frameshift mutations. In Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strain TR970 (hisC3737), which requires histidine for growth, a potential +1 frameshifting site, CCC-CAA-UAA, exists within the frameshifting window created by insertion of a C in the hisC gene. This site may be suppressed by peptidyl-tRNAProcmo5UGG (cmo(5)U is uridine-5-oxyacetic acid), making a frameshift when decoding the near-cognate codon CCC, provided that a pause occurs by, e.g., a slow entry of the tRNAGlnmnm5s2UUG (mnm(5)s(2)U is 5-methylaminomethyl-2-thiouridine) to the CAA codon located in the A site. We selected mutants of strain TR970 that were able to grow without histidine, and one such mutant (iscS51) was shown to have an amino acid substitution in the L-cysteine desulfurase IscS. Moreover, the levels of all five thiolated nucleosides 2-thiocytidine, mnm(5)s(2)U, 5-carboxymethylaminomethyl-2-thiouridine, 4-thiouridine, and N-6-(4-hydroxyisopentenyl)-2-methylthioadenosine present in the tRNA of S. enterica were reduced in the iscS51 mutant. In logarithmically growing cells of Escherichia coli, a deletion of the iscS gene resulted in nondetectable levels of all thiolated nucleosides in tRNA except N-6-(4-hydroxyisopentenyl)-2-methylthioadenosine, which was present at only 1.6% of the wild-type level. After prolonged incubation of cells in stationary phase, a 20% level of 2-thiocytidine and a 2% level of N-6-(4-hydroxyisopentenyl)-2-methylthioadenosine was observed, whereas no 4-thiouridine, 5-carboxymethylaminomethyl-2-thiouridine, or mnm(5)s(2)U was found. We attribute the frameshifting ability mediated by the iscS51 mutation to a slow decoding of CAA by the tRNAGlnmnm5s2UUG due to mnm(5)s(2)U deficiency. Since the growth rate of the iscS deletion mutant in rich medium was similar to that of a mutant (mnmA) lacking only mnm(5)s(2)U, we suggest that the major cause for the reduced growth rate of the iscS deletion mutant is the lack of mnm(5)s(2)U and 5-carboxymethylaminomethyl-2-thiouridine and not the lack of any of the other three thiolated nucleosides that are also absent in the iscS deletion mutant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon-Sulfur Lyases / genetics
  • Carbon-Sulfur Lyases / physiology*
  • Mutation
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / growth & development
  • Salmonella typhimurium / metabolism*
  • Thionucleotides / biosynthesis*


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Thionucleotides
  • Carbon-Sulfur Lyases
  • cysteine desulfurase