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RNA. 2005 May;11(5):728-38.

The N-terminal extension of Escherichia coli ribosomal protein L20 is important for ribosome assembly, but dispensable for translational feedback control.

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  • 1Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique, UPR 9073 du CNRS, Unité de Régulation de l'Expression Génétique chez les Microorganismes, Paris, France.


The Escherichia coli autoregulatory ribosomal protein L20 consists of two structurally distinct domains. The C-terminal domain is globular and sits on the surface of the large ribosomal subunit whereas the N-terminal domain has an extended shape and penetrates deep into the RNA-rich core of the subunit. Many other ribosomal proteins have analogous internal or terminal extensions. However, the biological functions of these extended domains remain obscure. Here we show that the N-terminal tail of L20 is important for ribosome assembly in vivo. Indeed, a truncated version of L20 without its N-terminal tail is unable to complement the deletion of rplT, the gene encoding L20. In addition, this L20 truncation confers a lethal-dominant phenotype, suggesting that the N-terminal domain is essential for cell growth because it could be required for ribosome assembly. Supporting this hypothesis, partial deletions of the N-terminal tail of the protein are shown to cause a slow-growth phenotype due to altered ribosome assembly in vivo as large amounts of intermediate 40S ribosomal particles accumulate. In addition to being a ribosomal protein, L20 also acts as an autogenous repressor. Using L20 truncations, we also show that the N-terminal tail of L20 is dispensable for autogenous control.

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