A tRNA methyltransferase paralog is important for ribosome stability and cell division in Trypanosoma brucei

Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 18;6:21438. doi: 10.1038/srep21438.


Most eukaryotic ribosomes contain 26/28S, 5S, and 5.8S large subunit ribosomal RNAs (LSU rRNAs) in addition to the 18S rRNA of the small subunit (SSU rRNA). However, in kinetoplastids, a group of organisms that include medically important members of the genus Trypanosoma and Leishmania, the 26/28S large subunit ribosomal RNA is uniquely composed of 6 rRNA fragments. In addition, recent studies have shown the presence of expansion segments in the large ribosomal subunit (60S) of Trypanosoma brucei. Given these differences in structure, processing and assembly, T. brucei ribosomes may require biogenesis factors not found in other organisms. Here, we show that one of two putative 3-methylcytidine methyltransferases, TbMTase37 (a homolog of human methyltransferase-like 6, METTL6), is important for ribosome stability in T. brucei. TbMTase37 localizes to the nucleolus and depletion of the protein results in accumulation of ribosomal particles lacking srRNA 4 and reduced levels of polysome associated ribosomes. We also find that TbMTase37 plays a role in cytokinesis, as loss of the protein leads to multi-flagellated and multi-nucleated cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ribosomes / genetics
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / metabolism*


  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Methyltransferases