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J Mol Biol. 2007 Jan 19;365(3):764-72. Epub 2006 Oct 25.

The flexible N-terminal domain of ribosomal protein L11 from Escherichia coli is necessary for the activation of stringent factor.

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  • 1School of Life Sciences, Södertörns högskola, S-141 04 Huddinge, Sweden.


The stringent response is activated by the binding of stringent factor to stalled ribosomes that have an unacylated tRNA in the ribosomal aminoacyl-site. Ribosomes lacking ribosomal protein L11 are deficient in stimulating stringent factor. L11 consists of a dynamic N-terminal domain (amino acid residues 1-72) connected to an RNA-binding C-terminal domain (amino acid residues 76-142) by a flexible linker (amino acid residues 73-75). In vivo data show that mutation of proline 22 in the N-terminal domain is important for initiation of the stringent response. Here, six different L11 point and deletion-mutants have been constructed to determine which regions of L11 are necessary for the activation of stringent factor. The different mutants were reconstituted with programmed 70 S(DeltaL11) ribosomes and tested for their ability to stimulate stringent factor in a sensitive in vitro pppGpp synthesis assay. It was found that a single-site mutation at proline 74 in the linker region between the two domains did not affect the stimulatory activity of the reconstituted ribosomes, whereas the single-site mutation at proline 22 reduced the activity of SF to 33% compared to ribosomes reconstituted with wild-type L11. Removal of the entire linker between the N and C-terminal domains or removal of the entire proline-rich helix beginning at proline 22 in L11 resulted in an L11 protein, which was unable to stimulate stringent factor in the ribosome-dependent assay. Surprisingly, the N-terminal domain of L11 on its own activated stringent factor in a ribosome-dependent manner without restoring the L11 footprint in 23 S rRNA in the 50 S subunit. This suggests that the N-terminal domain can activate stringent factor in trans. It is also shown that this activation is dependent on unacylated tRNA.

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