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J Biol Chem. 2006 Jun 23;281(25):17203-11. Epub 2006 Apr 18.

Conserved loop sequence of helix 69 in Escherichia coli 23 S rRNA is involved in A-site tRNA binding and translational fidelity.

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Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan.


Ribosomal (r) RNAs play a crucial role in the fundamental structure and function of the ribosome. Helix 69 (H69) (position 1906-1924), a highly conserved stem-loop in domain IV of the 23 S rRNA of bacterial 50 S subunits, is located on the surface for intersubunit association with the 30 S subunit by connecting with helix 44 of 16 S rRNA with the bridge B2a. H69 directly interacts with A/T-, A-, and P-site tRNAs during each translation step. To investigate the functional importance of the highly conserved loop sequence (1912-1918) of H69, we employed a genetic method that we named SSER (systematic selection of functional sequences by enforced replacement). This method allowed us to identify and select from the randomized loop sequences of H69 in Escherichia coli 23 S rRNA functional sequences that are absolutely required for ribosomal function. From a library consisting of 16,384 sequence variations, 13 functional variants were obtained. A1912 and U(Psi)1917 were selected as essential residues in all variants. An E. coli strain having 23 S rRNA with a U to A mutation at position 1915 showed a severe growth phenotype and low translational fidelity. The result could be explained by the fact that the A1915-ribosome variant has weak subunit association, weak A-site tRNA binding, and decreased translational activity. This study proposes that H69 plays an important role in the control of translational fidelity by modulating A-site tRNA binding during the decoding process.

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