tRNA splicing endonucleases, essential enzymes found in Archaea and Eukaryotes, are involved in the processing of pre-tRNA molecules. In Archaea, three types of splicing endonuclease [homotetrameric: α4, homodimeric: α2, and heterotetrameric: (αβ)2] have been identified, each representing different substrate specificity during the tRNA intron cleavage. Here, we discovered a fourth type of archaeal tRNA splicing endonuclease (2) in the genome of the acidophilic archaeon Candidatus Micrarchaeum acidiphilum, referred to as ARMAN-2 and its closely related species, ARMAN-1. The enzyme consists of two duplicated catalytic units and one structural unit encoded on a single gene, representing a novel three-unit architecture. Homodimeric formation was confirmed by cross-linking assay, and site-directed mutagenesis determined that the conserved L10-pocket interaction between catalytic and structural unit is necessary for the assembly. A tRNA splicing assay reveal that 2 endonuclease cleaves both canonical and non-canonical bulge-helix-bulge motifs, similar to that of (αβ)2 endonuclease. Unlike other ARMAN and Euryarchaeota, tRNAs found in ARMAN-2 are highly disrupted by introns at various positions, which again resemble the properties of archaeal species with (αβ)2 endonuclease. Thus, the discovery of 2 endonuclease in an archaeon deeply branched within Euryarchaeota represents a new example of the coevolution of tRNA and their processing enzymes.
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