In vitro and in vivo analysis of the major type I protein arginine methyltransferase from Trypanosoma brucei

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2005 Dec;144(2):206-17. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2005.08.015. Epub 2005 Sep 15.


In mammals and yeasts, arginine methylation, catalyzed by protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs), has been implicated in regulation of diverse processes such as protein-protein interaction, protein localization, signal transduction, RNA processing, and transcription. A large number of PRMT substrates are RNA binding proteins. In trypanosomes, gene regulation is controlled primarily at the levels of RNA processing, stability, and translation, and likely involves numerous RNA binding proteins. Thus, arginine methylation may be especially important in controlling gene expression in this evolutionarily ancient group of organisms. To begin to understand the role of arginine methylation in trypanosomes, we identified and characterized a type I PRMT from Trypanosoma brucei, termed TbPRMT1. TbPRMT1 displays 51% amino acid identity to human PRMT1. It possesses an S-adenosylmethionine binding site and double E and THW loops, common and absolute features associated with other PRMTs. Recombinant TbPRMT1 methylates both an artificial RG-rich peptide and the T. brucei mitochondrial RNA binding protein, TBRGG1, and it exhibits differences in substrate specificity compared to rat PRMT1. TbPRMT1 is constitutively expressed during the T. brucei life cycle. Disruption of TbPRMT1 gene expression by RNA interference did not result in a significant growth defect in procyclic form T. brucei. Finally, we observe a dramatic decrease in the cellular level of asymmetric dimethylarginine upon TbPRMT1 knock down, indicating that TbPRMT1 is the predominant type I PRMT in T. brucei. The strong conservation of PRMT1 homologs between protozoa and humans highlights the importance of arginine methylation as a regulatory mechanism in eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Methylation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Protozoan / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / enzymology*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / growth & development


  • Protozoan Proteins
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • RNA
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases