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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Aug 24;101(34):12439-43. Epub 2004 Aug 12.

Creating ribosomes with an all-RNA 30S subunit P site.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.


Ribosome crystal structures have revealed that two small subunit proteins, S9 and S13, have C-terminal tails, which, together with several features of 16S rRNA, contact the anticodon stem-loop of P-site tRNA. To test the functional importance of these protein tails, we created genomic deletions of the C-terminal regions of S9 and S13. All of the tail deletions, including double mutants containing deletions in both S9 and S13, were viable, showing that Escherichia coli cells can synthesize all of their proteins by using ribosomes that contain 30S P sites composed only of RNA. However, these mutants have slower growth rates, indicating that the tails may play a supporting functional role in translation. In vitro analysis shows that 30S subunits purified from the S13 deletion mutants have a generally decreased affinity for tRNA, whereas deletion of the S9 tail selectively affects the binding of tRNAs whose anticodon stem sequences are most divergent from that of initiator tRNA.

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