Jarocki, V., et al. Formylated N-terminal methionine is absent from the Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae proteome: Implications for translation initiation, International Journal of Medical Microbiology. Volume 309, Number 5, 288-298
N-terminal methionine excision (NME) is a proteolytic pathway that cleaves the N-termini of proteins, a process that influences where proteins localise in the cell and their turnover rates. In bacteria, protein biosynthesis is initiated by formylated methionine start tRNA (fMet-tRNAfMet). The formyl group is attached by formyltransferase (FMT) and is subsequently removed by peptide deformylase (PDF) in most but not all proteins. Methionine aminopeptidase then cleaves deformylated methionine to complete the process. Components of NME, particularly PDF, are promising therapeutic targets for bacterial pathogens. In Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, a genome-reduced, major respiratory pathogen of swine, pdf and fmt are absent from its genome. Our bioinformatic analysis uncovered additional enzymes involved in formylated N-terminal methionine (fnMet) processing missing in fourteen mycoplasma species, including M. hyopneumoniae but not in Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a major respiratory pathogen of humans. Consistent with our bioinformatic studies, an analysis of in-house tryptic peptide libraries confirmed the absence of fnMet in M. hyopneumoniae proteins but, as expected fnMet peptides were detected in the proteome of M. pneumoniae. Additionally, computational molecular modelling of M. hyopneumoniae translation initiation factors reveal structural and sequence differences in areas known to interact with fMet-tRNAfMet. Our data suggests that some mycoplasmas have evolved a translation process that does not require fnMet.