Structural and functional roles of free mRNAs during proteostasis stress and amyloidogenesis

  • Proteostasis stressors that destabilize the cellular proteome, like heat shock, trigger transcription and translational reactions leading to the accumulation of heat shock proteins, also called molecular chaperones. During stress, induction of stress response genes is prioritized so that molecular chaperones and other stress response proteins are synthesized to cope with proteome misfolding and aggregation. In order to promote the selective translation of stress-specific genes, translation of others genes that are nonessential for cell survival has to stop. Nonessential protein-coding mRNAs accumulate in the cytosol with the associated proteins to form granular structures called stress granules (SG). These membrane-less organelles are thought to be involved in cell survival, mRNA stabilization and mRNA triage. They were proposed to form via the liquid-liquid phase separation which can be triggered by the high local concentration of RNA-binding proteins. mRNAs were long thought to simply play a scaffolding role by bringing RNA-binding proteins together and allowing their concentration and local aggregation. Recently, the active role of mRNAs in the SG assembly became apparent, too. For example, the spontaneous assembly of total yeast RNA into granules was observed, and these RNA granules showed a large overlap with SG transcriptome. Furthermore, cytosolic mRNAs can be released from polyribosomes under stress and be exposed to the cytosolic contents as free mRNAs. It has been suggested that this massive increase of free mRNA in the cytosol might overload the capacities of RNA-stabilizing proteins. The remaining free mRNA molecules would then become exposed to misfolded and aggregation-prone proteins and trigger granulation. We investigated the role of free mRNAs in different stress conditions during the early and chronic phases of stress response and explored their involvement in SGs assembly and amlyoidogenesis. We identified and studied the interactome of a free mRNA probe incubated with heat shocked cell lysate by means of quantitative mass spectrometry. Proteomics analysis allowed us to identify 79 interactors of free mRNA. Among these interactors, we focused on the translation initiation factor eIF2α and on the RNA methyltransferase TRMT6/61A. Both interactions were verified biochemically, which confirmed that the association is enhanced in heat shocked lysate. In vitro reconstitution showed that free mRNA and TRMT6 interact directly. Ex vivo pulldowns revealed that eIF2α and TRMT6/61A interact under stress conditions and that this interaction is RNA-dependent. TRMT6/61A is a tRNA methytransferase responsible for the methylation of the adenosine 58 at the position 1 producing m1A. However, also mRNAs have been recently found to be methylated by TRMT6/61A. Our bioinformatics analyses revealed that significantly more mRNAs enriched in SG contain the motif for methylation than SG-depleted mRNAs. We hypothesized that m1A methylation of mRNAs could constitute a tag for the mRNAs targeting to SGs. TRMT61A knock-down (KD) cell lines were generated using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique. In TRMT61A KD cells, m1A was significantly reduced on mRNAs, which correlated with an increased sensitivity of the cells to proteostasis stress. KD cells also showed defects in SG assembly. In heat shocked cells, an m1A motif-containing mRNA recovered better after returning to normal temperature than a control mRNA with mutated motif. In addition, we could isolate SGs and analyze their m1A and m6A content by mass spectrometry. While m6A content in SG mRNAs was very similar to cytosolic mRNAs, m1A was almost 8 times enriched in SGs. Thus, we could confirm experimentally the results of the bioinformatics analysis and directly support the hypothesis that m1A is a tag to direct mRNAs for sequestration. Finally, we compared amyloidogenesis in wild-type and TRMT61A KD cell lines. Cells with reduced levels of TRMT61A demonstrated an increased accumulation of transfected Aβ and an impaired aggregate clearance. Various assays led us to conclude that the lack of m1A deposition on mRNAs enhanced RNA co-aggregation with amyloids. Based on our results, we propose a model explaining the fate of free mRNA during proteostasis stress. Upon polysome disassembly, free mRNA is released and becomes free to interact with other proteins, including the methyltransferase TRMT6/61A. TRMT6/61A methylates the freed mRNAs containing the cognate motif. The m1A tag then targets mRNAs to SGs promoting sequestration. Upon stress release, SGs disassemble, thus releasing rescued mRNAs which could now reenter translation and support cell recovery. On the other hand, non-sequestered mRNAs increasingly co-aggregate with aggregating proteins. Thus, deficiency of the N1-adenine methylation of mRNAs due to the lack of TRMT6/61A increases the amount of unpacked mRNAs. The deposition of m1A on mRNAs could then be a way to protect them during exposure to stress, to limit their co-aggregation with misfolded proteins and to allow a faster recovery upon stress release.

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Author:Marion Alriquet
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Martin Vabulas, Volker DötschORCiDGND
Advisor:Martin Vabulas
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2019/10/22
Year of first Publication:2019
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2019/10/21
Release Date:2019/10/24
Tag:amyloidogenesis; free mRNA; proteostasis stress
Page Number:168
Institutes:Biochemie, Chemie und Pharmazie
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 54 Chemie / 540 Chemie und zugeordnete Wissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht