The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rsm22 protein (Sc-Rsm22), encoded by the nuclear RSM22 (systematic name YKL155c) gene, is a distant homologue of Rsm22 from Trypanosoma brucei (Tb-Rsm22) and METTL17 from mouse (Mm-METTL17). All three proteins have been shown to be associated with mitochondrial gene expression, and Sc-Rsm22 has been documented to be essential for mitochondrial respiration. The Sc-Rsm22 protein comprises a polypeptide of molecular weight 72.2 kDa that is predicted to harbor an N-terminal mitochondrial targeting sequence. The precise physiological function of Rsm22-family proteins is unknown, and no structural information has been available for Sc-Rsm22 to date. In this study, Sc-Rsm22 was expressed and purified in monomeric and dimeric forms, their folding was confirmed by circular-dichroism analyses and their low-resolution structures were determined using a small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) approach. The solution structure of the monomeric form of Sc-Rsm22 revealed an elongated three-domain arrangement, which differs from the shape of Tb-Rsm22 in its complex with the mitochondrial small ribosomal subunit in T. brucei (PDB entry 6sg9). A bioinformatic analysis revealed that the core domain in the middle (Leu117-Asp462 in Sc-Rsm22) resembles the corresponding region in Tb-Rsm22, including a Rossmann-like methyltransferase fold followed by a zinc-finger-like structure. The latter structure is not present in this position in other methyltransferases and is therefore a unique structural motif for this family. The first half of the C-terminal domain is likely to form an OB-fold, which is typically found in RNA-binding proteins and is also seen in the Tb-Rsm22 structure. In contrast, the N-terminal domain of Sc-Rsm22 is predicted to be fully α-helical and shares no sequence similarity with other family members. Functional studies demonstrated that the monomeric variant of Sc-Rsm22 methylates mitochondrial tRNAs in vitro. These data suggest that Sc-Rsm22 is a new and unique member of the RNA methyltransferases that is important for mitochondrial protein synthesis.
Keywords: Rsm22; SAXS structure; crystallization; methyltransferases; mitochondrial ribosomes.