Merryman, C., Moazed, D., Daubresse, G., Noller, H. F.
Nucleotides In 23S RRNA Protected by the Association of 30S and 50S Ribosomal Subunits
J Mol Biol. 1999 Jan 08; 285(1): 107-13.
We have studied the effect of subunit association on the accessibility of nucleotides in 23S and 5S rRNA. Escherichia coli 50S subunits and 70S ribosomes were subjected to a combination of chemical probes and the sites of attack identified by primer extension. Since the ribose groups and all of the bases were probed, the present study provides a comprehensive map of the nucleotides that are likely to be involved in subunit-subunit interactions. Upon subunit association, the bases of 22 nucleotides and the ribose groups of more than 60 nucleotides are protected in 23S rRNA; no changes are seen in 5S rRNA. Interestingly, the bases of nucleotides A1866, A1891 and A1896, and G2505 become more reactive to chemical probes, indicating localized rearrangement of the structure of the 50S subunit upon association with the 30S subunit. Most of the protected nucleotides are located in four stem-loop structures around positions 715, 890, 1700, and 1920. In free 50S subunits, virtually all of the ribose groups in these four regions are strongly cleaved by hydroxyl radicals, suggesting that these stems protrude from the 50S subunit. When the 30S subunit is bound, most of the ribose groups in the 715, 890, 1700 and 1920 stem-loops are protected, as are many bases in and around the corresponding apical loops. Intriguingly, three of the protected regions of 23S rRNA are known to be linked via tertiary interactions to features of the peptidyl transferase center. Together with the juxtaposition of the subunit-protected regions of 16S rRNA with the small subunit tRNA binding sites, our findings suggest the existence of a communication pathway between the codon-anticodon binding sites of the 30S subunit with the peptidyl transferase center of the 50S subunit via rRNA-rRNA interactions.
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