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Biochem Cell Biol. 1995 Nov-Dec;73(11-12):1131-40.

A pseudoknot is required for efficient translational initiation and regulation of the Escherichia coli rpsO gene coding for ribosomal protein S15.

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  • 1UPR 9002 du CNRS, Institut de Biologie MolĂ©culaire et Cellulaire, Strasbourg, France.


Escherichia coli ribosomal protein S15 down regulates its own synthesis by binding to its mRNA in a region overlapping the ribosome binding site, called the translational operator. This binding stabilizes a pseudoknot structure that exists in equilibrium with two stem-loop structures. When synthesized in excess over 16S rRNA, S15 binds to its translational operator and traps the ribosome on its loading site in a transient state, preventing the formation of the active ternary (30S-mRNA-rRNA(f)Met) complex. This inhibition can be suppressed by 16S rRNA, which displaces S15 from the mRNA. An extensive mutational analysis showed that the pseudoknot is the structural element required for S15 recognition and in vivo translational control. Specific sequence determinants are located in limited regions of the structure formed by the pseudoknot. An unexpected result is that the pseudoknot can exist in a variety of topologically equivalent structures recognizable and shapable by S15. Based on footprinting experiments and computer graphic modelling, S15 shields the two stems of the pseudoknot, sitting in the major groove of the coaxial stack.

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