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Small noncoding RNAs (sncRNAs) regulate many genes in eukaryotic cells. Hua enhancer 1 (Hen1) is a 2'-O-methyltransferase that adds a methyl group to the 2'-OH of the 3'-terminal nucleotide of sncRNAs. The types and properties of sncRNAs may vary among different species, and the domain composition, structure, and function of Hen1 proteins differ accordingly. In mammals, Hen1 specifically methylates sncRNAs called P-element-induced wimpy testis-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). However, other types of sncRNAs that are methylated by Hen1 have not yet been reported, and the structures and the substrates of mammalian Hen1 remain unknown. Here, we report that mouse Hen1 (mHen1) performs 3'-end methylation of classical piRNAs, as well as those of most noncanonical piRNAs derived from rRNAs, small nuclear RNAs and tRNAs in murine spermatogonial stem cells. Moreover, we found that a distinct class of tRNA-derived sncRNAs are mHen1 substrates. We further determined the crystal structure of the putative methyltransferase domain of human Hen1 (HsHen1) in complex with its cofactor AdoMet at 2.0 Å resolution. We observed that HsHen1 has an active site similar to that of plant Hen1. We further found that the putative catalytic domain of HsHen1 alone exhibits no activity. However, an FXPP motif at its N terminus conferred full activity to this domain, and additional binding assays suggested that the FXPP motif is important for substrate binding. Our findings shed light on its methylation substrates in mouse spermatogonial stem cells and the substrate-recognition mechanism of mammalian Hen1. © 2018 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


Ling Peng, Fengjuan Zhang, Renfu Shang, Xueyan Wang, Jiayi Chen, James J Chou, Jinbiao Ma, Ligang Wu, Ying Huang. Identification of substrates of the small RNA methyltransferase Hen1 in mouse spermatogonial stem cells and analysis of its methyl-transfer domain. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2018 Jun 29;293(26):9981-9994

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PMID: 29703750

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