Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Jan 22, 2019 116 (4) 1394-1403
Vol. 116, Issue 4, Medline Page 1394-1403
The RNA degradosome promotes tRNA quality control through clearance of hypomodified tRNA.
The factors and mechanisms that govern tRNA stability in bacteria are not well understood. Here, we investigated the influence of posttranscriptional modification of bacterial tRNAs (tRNA modification) on tRNA stability. We focused on ThiI-generated 4-thiouridine (s4U), a modification found in bacterial and archaeal tRNAs. Comprehensive quantification of Vibrio cholerae tRNAs revealed that the abundance of some tRNAs is decreased in a ΔthiI strain in a stationary phase-specific manner. Multiple mechanisms, including rapid degradation of a subset of hypomodified tRNAs, account for the reduced abundance of tRNAs in the absence of thiI Through transposon insertion sequencing, we identified additional tRNA modifications that promote tRNA stability and bacterial viability. Genetic analysis of suppressor mutants as well as biochemical analyses revealed that rapid degradation of hypomodified tRNA is mediated by the RNA degradosome. Elongation factor Tu seems to compete with the RNA degradosome, protecting aminoacyl tRNAs from decay. Together, our observations describe a previously unrecognized bacterial tRNA quality control system in which hypomodification sensitizes tRNAs to decay mediated by the RNA degradosome.