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tRNA Misacylation with Methionine in the Mouse Gut Microbiome in Situ

Schwartz, Michael H., Pan, Tao
Microbial ecology 2017 v.74 no.1 pp. 10-14
Bacteroidetes, Escherichia coli, Firmicutes, antibiotic resistance, bacteria, cecum, habitats, intestinal microorganisms, methionine, methionine-tRNA ligase, mice, oxidative stress, phenotype, proteins, stress response, temperature, transfer RNA
Global protein mistranslation with methionine has been shown to be a conserved biological process that affords distinct functional advantages in all three domains of life. In all instances, methionine mistranslation occurs through a regulated process where low-fidelity forms of methionyl-tRNA synthetase are conditionally induced to mischarge non-methionyl-tRNAs with methionine followed by the utilization of the misacylated tRNAs in translation. In mammals, methionine mistranslation contributes to oxidative stress response; in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Aeropyrum pernix, methionine mistranslation produces proteins that are better adapted to low temperature growth; in E. coli, methionine mistranslation increases resistance to antibiotics and chemical stressors. The phenotypic benefits conferred by tRNA mismethionylation suggest that it should be a widespread adaptational mechanism in diverse bacterial lineages, yet this response has only been described in E. coli. Furthermore, previous microbial investigations on this response have been confined to axenic laboratory cultures. It was unknown whether tRNA mismethionylation was relevant in a natural microbial habitat. Here we show that four abundant gut microbiotal genera belonging to the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes phyla perform constitutive tRNA misacylation with methionine in the mouse cecum in situ. These results reveal the ubiquity of the tRNA mismethionylation process among bacteria and implicate the potential importance of this response for subsistence and adaptation in natural habitats.