Pratt-Hyatt M, Pai DA, Haeusler RA, Wozniak GG, Good PD, Miller EL, McLeod IX, Yates JR, Hopper AK, Engelke DR
The tRNA gene-mediated (tgm) silencing of RNA polymerase II promoters is dependent on subnuclear clustering of the tRNA genes, but genetic analysis shows that the silencing requires additional mechanisms. We have identified proteins that bind tRNA gene transcription complexes and are required for tgm silencing but not required for gene clustering. One of the proteins, Mod5, is a tRNA modifying enzyme that adds an N6-isopentenyl adenosine modification at position 37 on a small number of tRNAs in the cytoplasm, although a subpopulation of Mod5 is also found in the nucleus. Recent publications have also shown that Mod5 has tumor suppressor characteristics in humans as well as confers drug resistance through prion-like misfolding in yeast. Here, we show that a subpopulation of Mod5 associates with tRNA gene complexes in the nucleolus. This association occurs and is required for tgm silencing regardless of whether the pre-tRNA transcripts are substrates for Mod5 modification. In addition, Mod5 is bound to nuclear pre-tRNA transcripts, although they are not substrates for the A37 modification. Lastly, we show that truncation of the tRNA transcript to remove the normal tRNA structure also alleviates silencing, suggesting that synthesis of intact pre-tRNAs is required for the silencing mechanism. These results are discussed in light of recent results showing that silencing near tRNA genes also requires chromatin modification.