Methylation of various components of the translational machinery has been shown to globally affect protein synthesis. Little is currently known about the role of lysine methylation on elongation factors. Here we show that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the product of the EFM3/YJR129C gene is responsible for the trimethylation of lysine 509 on elongation factor 2. Deletion of EFM3 or of the previously described EFM2 increases sensitivity to antibiotics that target translation and decreases translational fidelity. Furthermore, the amino acid sequences of Efm3 and Efm2, as well as their respective methylation sites on EF2, are conserved in other eukaryotes. These results suggest the importance of lysine methylation modification of EF2 in fine tuning the translational apparatus.
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