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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jun 4;274(23):16576-81.

Effects of tetracycline and spectinomycin on the tertiary structure of ribosomal RNA in the Escherichia coli 30 S ribosomal subunit.

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Department of Biochemistry, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7622, USA.


Structural analysis of the 16 S rRNA in the 30 S subunit and 70 S ribosome in the presence of ribosome-specific antibiotics was performed to determine whether they produced rRNA structural changes that might provide further insight to their action. An UV cross-linking procedure that determines the pattern and frequency of intramolecular 16 S RNA cross-links was used to detect differences reflecting structural changes. Tetracycline and spectinomycin have specific effects detected by this assay. The presence of tetracycline inhibits the cross-link C967xC1400 completely, increases the frequency of cross-link C1402x1501 twofold, and decreases the cross-link G894xU244 by one-half without affecting other cross-links. Spectinomycin reduces the frequency of the cross-link C934xU1345 by 60% without affecting cross-linking at other sites. The structural changes occur at concentrations at which the antibiotics exert their inhibitory effects. For spectinomycin, the apparent binding site and the affected cross-linking site are distant in the secondary structure but are close in tertiary structure in several recent models, indicating a localized effect. For tetracycline, the apparent binding sites are significantly separated in both the secondary and the three-dimensional structures, suggesting a more regional effect.

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