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FEBS Lett. 2005 Feb 7;579(4):855-8.

The 30S ribosomal P site: a function of 16S rRNA.

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


The 30S ribosomal P site serves several functions in translation. It must specifically bind initiator tRNA during formation of the 30S initiation complex; bind the anticodon stem-loop of peptidyl-tRNA during the elongation phase; and help to maintain the translational reading frame when the A site is unoccupied. Early experiments provided evidence that 16S rRNA was an important component of the 30S P site. Footprinting and crosslinking studies later implicated specific nucleotides in interactions with tRNA. The crystal structures of the 30S subunit and 70S ribosome-tRNA complexes confirmed the interactions between 16S rRNA and tRNA, but also revealed contacts between tRNA and the C-terminal tails of proteins S9 and S13. Deletion of these tails now shows that the 16S rRNA contacts alone are sufficient to support protein synthesis in living cells.

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