Crystal Structure of the Archaeosine Synthase QueF-like-Insights into Amidino Transfer and tRNA Recognition by the Tunnel Fold

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The tunneling-fold (T-fold) structural superfamily has emerged as a versatile protein scaffold of diverse catalytic activities. This is especially evident in the pathways to the 7-deazaguanosine modified nucleosides of tRNA queuosine and archaeosine. Four members of the T-fold superfamily have been confirmed in these pathways and here we report the crystal structure of a fifth enzyme; the recently discovered amidinotransferase QueF-Like (QueF-L), responsible for the final step in the biosynthesis of archaeosine in the D-loop of tRNA in a subset of Crenarchaeota. QueF-L catalyzes the conversion of the nitrile group of the 7-cyano-7-deazaguanine (preQ0 ) base of preQ0 -modified tRNA to a formamidino group. The structure, determined in the presence of preQ0 , reveals a symmetric T-fold homodecamer of two head-to-head facing pentameric subunits, with 10 active sites at the inter-monomer interfaces. Bound preQ0 forms a stable covalent thioimide bond with a conserved active site cysteine similar to the intermediate previously observed in the nitrile reductase QueF. Despite distinct catalytic functions, phylogenetic distributions, and only 19% sequence identity, the two enzymes share a common preQ0 binding pocket, and likely a common mechanism of thioimide formation. However, due to tight twisting of its decamer, QueF-L lacks the NADPH binding site present in QueF. A large positively charged molecular surface and a docking model suggest simultaneous binding of multiple tRNA molecules and structure-specific recognition of the D-loop by a surface groove. The structure sheds light on the mechanism of nitrile amidation, and the evolution of diverse chemistries in a common fold.



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