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J Bacteriol. Oct 1995; 177(19): 5554–5560.
PMCID: PMC177364

Functional analysis of the ffh-trmD region of the Escherichia coli chromosome by using reverse genetics.

Abstract

We have analyzed the essentiality or contribution to growth of each of four genes in the Escherichia coli trmD operon (rpsP, 21K, trmD, and rplS) and of the flanking genes ffh and 16K by a reverse genetic method. Mutant alleles were constructed in vitro on plasmids and transferred by recombination to the corresponding lambda phage clone (lambda 439) and from the phage clone to the E. coli chromosome. An ability to obtain recombinants only in cells carrying a complementing plasmid indicated that the mutated gene was essential, while an ability to obtain recombinants in plasmid-free cells indicated nonessentiality. In this way, Ffh, the E. coli homolog to the 54-kDa protein of the signal recognition particle of mammalian cells, and ribosomal proteins S16 and L19 were shown to be essential for viability. A deletion of the second gene, 21K, of the trmD operon reduced the growth rate of the cells fivefold, indicating that the wild-type 21-kDa protein is important for viability. A deletion-insertion in the same gene resulted in the accumulation of an assembly intermediate of the 50S ribosomal subunit, as a result of polar effects on the expression of a downstream gene, rplS, which encodes ribosomal protein L19. This finding suggests that L19, previously not considered to be an assembly protein, contributes to the assembly of the 50S ribosomal subunits. Strains deleted for the trmD gene, the third gene of the operon, encoding the tRNA (m1G37)methyltransferase (or TrmD) showed a severalfold reduced growth rate. Since such a strain grew much slower than a strain lacking the tRNA(m(1)G37) methyltransferase activity because of a point mutation, the TrmD protein might have a second function in the cell. Finally, a 16-kDa protein encoded by the gene located downstream of, and convergently transcribed to, the trmD operon was found to be nonessential and not to contribute to growth.

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Selected References

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