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J Mol Biol. 1989 Oct 20;209(4):645-53.

Isolation of temperature-sensitive mutants of 16 S rRNA in Escherichia coli.

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Thimann Laboratories, University of California, Santa Cruz 95064.


Temperature-sensitive mutants have been isolated following hydroxylamine mutagenesis of a plasmid containing Escherichia coli rRNA genes carrying selectable markers for spectinomycin resistance (U1192 in 16 S rRNA) and erythromycin resistance (G2058 in 23 S rRNA). These antibiotic resistance alleles, originally identified by Morgan and co-workers, enable us to follow expression of cloned rRNA genes in vivo. Recessive mutations causing the loss of expression of the cloned 16 S rRNA gene were identified by the loss of the ability of cells to survive on media containing spectinomycin. The mutations were localized by in vitro restriction fragment replacement followed by in vivo marker rescue and were identified by DNA sequence analysis. We report here seven single-base alterations in 16 S rRNA (A146, U153, A350, A359, A538, A1292 and U1293), five of which produce temperature-sensitive spectinomycin resistance and two that produce unconditional loss of resistance. In each case, loss of ribosomal function can be accounted for by disruption of base-pairing in the secondary structure of 16 S rRNA. For the temperature-sensitive mutants, there is a lag period of about two generations between a shift to the restrictive temperature and cessation of growth, implying that the structural defects cause impairment of ribosome assembly.

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