Mutation in human selenocysteine transfer RNA selectively disrupts selenoprotein synthesis.
Selenium is a trace element that is essential for human health and is incorporated into more than 25 human selenocysteine-containing (Sec-containing) proteins via unique Sec-insertion machinery that includes a specific, nuclear genome-encoded, transfer RNA (tRNA[Ser]Sec). Here, we have identified a human tRNA[Ser]Sec mutation in a proband who presented with a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle weakness, and low plasma levels of selenium. This mutation resulted in a marked reduction in expression of stress-related, but not housekeeping, selenoproteins. Evaluation of primary cells from the homozygous proband and a heterozygous parent indicated that the observed deficit in stress-related selenoprotein production is likely mediated by reduced expression and diminished 2'-O-methylribosylation at uridine 34 in mutant tRNA[Ser]Sec. Moreover, this methylribosylation defect was restored by cellular complementation with normal tRNA[Ser]Sec. This study identifies a tRNA mutation that selectively impairs synthesis of stress-related selenoproteins and demonstrates the importance of tRNA modification for normal selenoprotein synthesis.
Wellcome Trust (095564/Z/11/Z)