Three critical regions of the erythromycin resistance methyltransferase, ErmE, are required for function supporting a model for the interaction of Erm family enzymes with substrate rRNA

RNA. 2022 Feb;28(2):210-226. doi: 10.1261/rna.078946.121. Epub 2021 Nov 18.


6-Methyladenosine modification of DNA and RNA is widespread throughout the three domains of life and often accomplished by a Rossmann-fold methyltransferase domain which contains conserved sequence elements directing S-adenosylmethionine cofactor binding and placement of the target adenosine residue into the active site. Elaborations to the conserved Rossman-fold and appended domains direct methylation to diverse DNA and RNA sequences and structures. Recently, the first atomic-resolution structure of a ribosomal RNA adenine dimethylase (RRAD) family member bound to rRNA was solved, TFB1M bound to helix 45 of 12S rRNA. Since erythromycin resistance methyltransferases are also members of the RRAD family, and understanding how these enzymes recognize rRNA could be used to combat their role in antibiotic resistance, we constructed a model of ErmE bound to a 23S rRNA fragment based on the TFB1M-rRNA structure. We designed site-directed mutants of ErmE based on this model and assayed the mutants by in vivo phenotypic assays and in vitro assays with purified protein. Our results and additional bioinformatic analyses suggest our structural model captures key ErmE-rRNA interactions and indicate three regions of Erm proteins play a critical role in methylation: the target adenosine binding pocket, the basic ridge, and the α4-cleft.

Keywords: RNA modification; antibiotic resistance; methylation; methyltransferase; rRNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics*
  • Erythromycin / toxicity
  • Methyltransferases / chemistry*
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / chemistry*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • Erythromycin
  • N-methyladenosine
  • Methyltransferases
  • Adenosine