HemK2 is a highly conserved methyltransferase, but the identification of its genuine substrates has been controversial, and its biological importance in higher organisms remains unclear. We elucidate the role of HemK2 in the methylation of eukaryotic Release Factor 1 (eRF1), a process that is essential for female germline development in Drosophila melanogaster. Knockdown of hemK2 in the germline cells (hemK2-GLKD) induces apoptosis, accompanied by a pronounced decrease in both eRF1 methylation and protein synthesis. Overexpression of a methylation-deficient eRF1 variant recapitulates the defects observed in hemK2-GLKD, suggesting that eRF1 is a primary methylation target of HemK2. Furthermore, hemK2-GLKD leads to a significant reduction in mRNA levels in germline cell. These defects in oogenesis and protein synthesis can be partially restored by inhibiting the No-Go Decay pathway. In addition, hemK2 knockdown is associated with increased disome formation, suggesting that disruptions in eRF1 methylation may provoke ribosomal stalling, which subsequently activates translation-coupled mRNA surveillance mechanisms that degrade actively translated mRNAs. We propose that HemK2-mediated methylation of eRF1 is crucial for ensuring efficient protein production and mRNA stability, which are vital for the generation of high-quality eggs.

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