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Mol Microbiol. 2010 Feb;75(4):801-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.07002.x. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Ribosome reactivation by replacement of damaged proteins.

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Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.


Ribosomal functions are vital for all organisms. Bacterial ribosomes are stable 2.4 MDa particles composed of three RNAs and over 50 different proteins. Accumulating damage to ribosomal RNA or proteins can disturb ribosome functioning. Organisms could benefit from degrading or possibly repairing inactive or partially active ribosomes. Reactivation of chemically damaged ribosomes by a process of protein replacement was studied in vitro. Ribosomes were inactivated by chemical modification of Cys residues. Incubation of modified ribosomes with total ribosomal proteins led to reactivation of translational activity. Intriguingly, ribosomal proteins extracted by LiCl are equally active in the restoration of ribosome function. Incubation of 70S ribosomes with isotopically labelled r-proteins followed by separation of ribosomes was used to identify exchangeable proteins. A similar set of proteins was found to be exchanged in vivo under stress conditions in the stationary phase. We propose that repair of damaged ribosomes might be an important mechanism for maintaining protein synthesis activity following chemical damage.

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