A Remodeled Protein Arginine Methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1) Generates Symmetric Dimethylarginine [Molecular Biophysics]

January 29th, 2014 by Gui, S., Gathiaka, S., Li, J., Qu, J., Acevedo, O., Hevel, J. M.

Protein arginine methylation is emerging as a significant post-translational modification involved in various cell processes and human diseases. As the major arginine methylation enzyme, protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1) strictly generates monomethyl arginine (MMA) and asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), but not symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA). The two types of dimethylarginines can lead to distinct biological outputs, as highlighted in the PRMT-dependent epigenetic control of transcription. However, it remains unclear how PRMT1 product specificity is regulated. We discovered that a single amino acid mutation (Met48 to Phe) in the PRMT1 active site enables PRMT1 to generate both ADMA and SDMA. Due to the limited amount of SDMA formed, we carried out quantum mechanical (QM) calculations to determine the free energies of activation of ADMA and SDMA synthesis. Our results indicate that the higher energy barrier of SDMA formation (ΔΔG = 3.2 kcal/mol compared to ADMA) may explain the small amount of SDMA generated by M48F-PRMT1. Our study reveals unique energetic challenges for SDMA-forming methyltransferases, and highlights the exquisite control of product formation by active site residues in the PRMTs.