Nonbridging phosphate oxygens in 16S rRNA important for 30S subunit assembly and association with the 50S ribosomal subunit.

4102 Urey Hall, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0314, USA.
RNA (Impact Factor: 4.62). 06/2005; 11(5):657-67. DOI: 10.1261/rna.7224305
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Ribosomes are composed of RNA and protein molecules that associate together to form a supramolecular machine responsible for protein biosynthesis. Detailed information about the structure of the ribosome has come from the recent X-ray crystal structures of the ribosome and the ribosomal subunits. However, the molecular interactions between the rRNAs and the r-proteins that occur during the intermediate steps of ribosome assembly are poorly understood. Here we describe a modification-interference approach to identify nonbridging phosphate oxygens within 16S rRNA that are important for the in vitro assembly of the Escherichia coli 30S small ribosomal subunit and for its association with the 50S large ribosomal subunit. The 30S small subunit was reconstituted from phosphorothioate-substituted 16S rRNA and small subunit proteins. Active 30S subunits were selected by their ability to bind to the 50S large subunit and form 70S ribosomes. Analysis of the selected population shows that phosphate oxygens at specific positions in the 16S rRNA are important for either subunit assembly or for binding to the 50S subunit. The X-ray crystallographic structures of the 30S subunit suggest that some of these phosphate oxygens participate in r-protein binding, coordination of metal ions, or for the formation of intersubunit bridges in the mature 30S subunit. Interestingly, however, several of the phosphate oxygens identified in this study do not participate in any interaction in the mature 30S subunit, suggesting that they play a role in the early steps of the 30S subunit assembly.

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