Queuosine (Q), a hypermodified nucleoside, occurs at the wobble position of transfer RNAs (tRNAs) with GUN anticodons. In eubacteria, absence of Q affects messenger RNA (mRNA) translation and reduces the virulence of certain pathogenic strains. In animal cells, changes in the abundance of Q have been shown to correlate with diverse phenomena including stress tolerance, cell proliferation and tumour growth but the function of Q in animals is poorly understood. Animals are thought to obtain Q (or its analogues) as a micronutrient from dietary sources such as gut microflora. However, the difficulty of maintaining animals under bacteria-free conditions on Q-deficient diets has severely hampered the study of Q metabolism and function in animals. In this study, we show that as in higher animals, tRNAs in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans are modified by Q and its sugar derivatives. When the worms were fed on Q-deficient Escherichia coli, Q modification was absent from the worm tRNAs suggesting that C. elegans lacks a de novo pathway of Q biosynthesis. The inherent advantages of C. elegans as a model organism, and the simplicity of conferring a Q-deficient phenotype on it make it an ideal system to investigate the function of Q modification in tRNA.
Volume 47, 2022
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