Metabolism Of Queuosine, A Modified Nucleoside, In Escherichia Coli And Caenorhabditis Elegans And Dual Function Of Bovine Mitochondrial Initiation Factor 2 As Initiation Factors 1 And 2 In Escherichia Coli
The studies reported in this thesis address firstly, the biology of a modified nucleoside, Queuosine (Q) and secondly, the properties of mitochondrial translation initiation factor 2. A summary of the relevant literature on both these topics is presented in Chapter 1. Section I of this ‘General Introduction’ summarizes the literature on biosynthesis and physiological importance of Queuosine. Section II is a brief review of the current understanding of translation initiation in Eubacteria. Information about the mitochondrial translation initiation apparatus also features as a subsection. The next chapter (Chapter 2), describes the ‘Materials and Methods’ used throughout the experimental work presented in the thesis. It is followed by three chapters containing experimental work as described below:- i) Biosynthesis of Queuosine (Q) in Escherichia coli Q is a hypermodification of guanosine found at the wobble position of tRNAs with GUN anticodons. Q is thought to be produced via a complex multistep pathway, the details of which are not known. It was found in our laboratory that a naturally occurring strain of E. coli B105 lacked Q modification in the tRNAs. As the known enzymes of Q biosynthesis were functional in this strain, it presented us with the opportunity to uncover novel component(s) of Q biosynthetic pathway. In the present work, a genetic screen was developed to map the defect in E. coli B105 to a previously uncharacterised gene, ybaX, predicted to code for a 231 amino acid long protein with a pI of 5.6. Further genetic analyses showed that YbaX functions at a step leading to production of preQ0, the first known intermediate in the generally accepted pathway that utilizes GTP as the starting molecule. The gene ybaX has been renamed as queC. Using a combination of bioinformatics based prediction and gene knockouts, we have also been able to place two more genes, queD and queE at the initial step in Q biosynthesis, suggesting that the initial reaction of Q biosynthesis might be more complex and mechanistically different than what has been proposed earlier. ii) Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model System to Study Queuosine Metabolism in Metazoa Animals are thought to obtain Q (or its analogs) as a micronutrient from dietary sources such as gut microflora, and the corresponding base is then inserted in the substrate tRNAs by tRNA guanine transglycosylase (TGT). In animal cells, changes in the abundance of Q have been shown to correlate with diverse phenomena including stress tolerance, cell proliferation and tumor growth but the precise function of Q in animal tRNAs remains unknown. A major obstacle in the study of Q metabolism in higher organisms has been the requirement of a chemically defined medium to cause Q depletion in animals. Having discovered that E. coli B105 has a block in the initial step of Q biosynthesis, we reasoned that this strain could be used as a Q- diet for organisms like C. elegans, which naturally feed on bacteria. An analysis of C. elegans tRNA revealed that as in the other higher animals, tRNAs in the worm C. elegans, are modified by Q and its sugar derivatives. When the worms were fed on Q deficient E. coli B105, Q modification was absent from the worm tRNAs suggesting that C. elegans lacks a de novo pathway of Q biosynthesis. The inherent advantages of C. elegans as a model organism, the speed and simplicity of conferring a Q deficient phenotype on it, make it an ideal system to investigate the function of Q modification in tRNA. By microinjecting tgt-1-gfp constructs into C. elegans, we could also demonstrate that a major form of TGT is localised to the nucleus, suggesting that insertion of Q into the tRNAs could be occurring in the nucleus. iii) Dual Function of Bovine Mitochondrial Initiation Factor 2 as Initiation Factors 1 and 2 in Escherichia coli Translation initiation factors 1 and 2 (IF1 and IF2) are known as ‘universal translation initiation factors’ due to the presence of their homologs in all living organisms. Homologs of these factors are also present in the chloroplast, however, a unique situation exists in the mitochondria where IF2 homolog (IF2mt) is known to occur but an IF1 like factor is not found. We have engineered a system of E. coli knockouts to allow the study of IF2mt in a prokaryotic milieu. We found that the bovine IF2mt complements an E. coli strain wherein the gene for IF2 is knocked out, providing the first proof of a mitochondrial translation initiation factor working in a eubacterial system. This conservation of function is especially interesting in light of the recent reports revealing significant differences between the mitochondrial and eubacterial ribosomes. Further, we found that the IF2mt can also support a double knockout of IF1 and IF2 genes in E. coli, suggesting that IF2mt possesses both IF1 and IF2 like activities in E. coli. This finding offers an explanation for the lack of an IF1 like factor in mitochondria. Molecular modeling of bovine IF2mt indicated that a conserved insertion found in all mitochondrial IF2s, may form a protruding α-helix that could stabilize IF2mt on ribosomes. This insertion could in principle function as IF1 and we have explored the role of this conserved insertion both in vivo and in vitro, by generating mutants of IF2mt and EcoIF2, to lose or gain the conserved insertion respectively.