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RNA. 2007 Dec;13(12):2348-55. Epub 2007 Oct 17.

Characterization of 16S rRNA mutations that decrease the fidelity of translation initiation.

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  • 1Ohio State Biochemistry Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


In bacteria, initiation of translation is kinetically controlled by factors IF1, IF2, and IF3, which work in conjunction with the 30S subunit to ensure accurate selection of the initiator tRNA (fMet-tRNA(fMet)) and the start codon. Here, we show that mutations G1338A and A790G of 16S rRNA decrease initiation fidelity in vivo and do so in distinct ways. Mutation G1338A increases the affinity of tRNA(fMet) for the 30S subunit, suggesting that G1338 normally forms a suboptimal Type II interaction with fMet-tRNA(fMet). By stabilizing fMet-tRNA(fMet) in the preinitiation complex, G1338A may partially compensate for mismatches in the codon-anti-codon helix and thereby increase spurious initiation. Unlike G1338A, A790G decreases the affinity of IF3 for the 30S subunit. This may indirectly stabilize fMet-tRNA(fMet) in the preinitiation complex and/or promote premature docking of the 50S subunit, resulting in increased levels of spurious initiation.

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