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J Mol Biol. 2008 Jul 18;380(4):593-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.05.027. Epub 2008 May 17.

An indigenous posttranscriptional modification in the ribosomal peptidyl transferase center confers resistance to an array of protein synthesis inhibitors.

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Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology m/c 870, University of Illinois, 900 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60607, USA.


A number of nucleotide residues in ribosomal RNA (rRNA) undergo specific posttranscriptional modifications. The roles of most modifications are unclear, but their clustering in functionally important regions of rRNA suggests that they might either directly affect the activity of the ribosome or modulate its interactions with ligands. Of the 25 modified nucleotides in Escherichia coli 23S rRNA, 14 are located in the peptidyl transferase center, the main antibiotic target in the large ribosomal subunit. Since nucleotide modifications have been closely associated with both antibiotic sensitivity and antibiotic resistance, loss of some of these posttranscriptional modifications may affect the susceptibility of bacteria to antibiotics. We investigated the antibiotic sensitivity of E. coli cells in which the genes of 8 rRNA-modifying enzymes targeting the peptidyl transferase center were individually inactivated. The lack of pseudouridine at position 2504 of 23S rRNA was found to significantly increase the susceptibility of bacteria to peptidyl transferase inhibitors. Therefore, this indigenous posttranscriptional modification may have evolved as an intrinsic resistance mechanism protecting bacteria against natural antibiotics.

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