A map of 5-methylcytosine residues in Trypanosoma brucei tRNA revealed by sodium bisulfite sequencing

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2014 Feb;193(2):122-6. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2013.12.003. Epub 2014 Jan 2.


In protozoan parasites, there is little information on the presence of covalent RNA modifications which comprise the epitranscriptome. Therefore, we determined if T. brucei tRNA(Asp(GUC)), tRNA(Gly(GCC)), tRNA(Val(AAC)), and tRNA(Tyr(GUA)) contain 5-methylcytosines via RNA bisulfite sequencing. Most tRNAs examined have at least one 5-methylcytosine at the variable region-TψC junction. Only tRNA(Gly(GCC)) displayed methylation of C40 in the anticodon stem, and there was partial methylation at this site. There is no evidence for methylation of C38 in the anticodon loop in the tRNAs analyzed. Analysis of tRNA(Tyr(GUA)) demonstrates that both unspliced and spliced molecules contain C48 methylation, indicating tRNA cytosine methylation can precede tRNA splicing. Overall, our data indicate that T. brucei tRNAs contain 5-methylcytosine residues in some, but potentially not all standard eukaryotic positions. The levels of cytosine methylation of different T. brucei tRNAs vary, suggesting the presence of a mechanism for methylation control.

Keywords: 5-Methylcytosine; Dnmt2; NSun2; Sodium bisulfite sequencing; tRNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 5-Methylcytosine*
  • Base Sequence
  • Methylation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods
  • Sulfites
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics*


  • Sulfites
  • 5-Methylcytosine
  • RNA, Transfer
  • sodium bisulfite