Balancing of mitochondrial translation through METTL8-mediated m3C modification of mitochondrial tRNAs, A Study of Eva Schöller
Mitochondria contain a specific translation machinery for the synthesis of mitochondria-encoded respiratory chain components. Mitochondrial tRNAs (mt-tRNAs) are also generated from the mitochondrial DNA and, similar to their cytoplasmic counterparts, are post-transcriptionally modified. Here, we find that the RNA methyltransferase METTL8, is a mitochondrial protein that facilitates m3C methylation at position C32 of mt-tRNASer(UCN) and mt-tRNAThr. METTL8 knock-out cells show a reduction in respiratory chain activity, whilst over-expression increases activity. In pancreatic cancer, METTL8 levels are high, which correlates with lower patient survival and an enhanced respiratory chain activity. Mitochondrial ribosome profiling uncovered mitoribosome stalling on mt-tRNASer(UCN)- and mt-tRNAThr-dependent codons. Further analysis of the respiratory chain complexes using mass spectrometry revealed reduced incorporation of the mitochondrially encoded proteins ND6 and ND1 into complex I. The well-balanced translation of mt-tRNASer(UCN)- and mt-tRNAThr-dependent codons through METTL8-mediated m3C32 methylation might therefore facilitate the optimal composition and function of the mitochondrial respiratory chain.