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RNA. 2015 Jun;21(6):1203-16. doi: 10.1261/rna.049171.114. Epub 2015 Apr 22.

The C-terminal helix in the YjeQ zinc-finger domain catalyzes the release of RbfA during 30S ribosome subunit assembly.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, M.G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Diseases Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1.


YjeQ (also called RsgA) and RbfA proteins in Escherichia coli bind to immature 30S ribosome subunits at late stages of assembly to assist folding of the decoding center. A key step for the subunit to enter the pool of actively translating ribosomes is the release of these factors. YjeQ promotes dissociation of RbfA during the final stages of maturation; however, the mechanism implementing this functional interplay has not been elucidated. YjeQ features an amino-terminal oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide binding domain, a central GTPase module and a carboxy-terminal zinc-finger domain. We found that the zinc-finger domain is comprised of two functional motifs: the region coordinating the zinc ion and a carboxy-terminal α-helix. The first motif is essential for the anchoring of YjeQ to the 30S subunit and the carboxy-terminal α-helix facilitates the removal of RbfA once the 30S subunit reaches the mature state. Furthermore, the ability of the mature 30S subunit to stimulate YjeQ GTPase activity also depends on the carboxy-terminal α-helix. Our data are consistent with a model in which YjeQ uses this carboxy-terminal α-helix as a sensor to gauge the conformation of helix 44, an essential motif of the decoding center. According to this model, the mature conformation of helix 44 is sensed by the carboxy-terminal α-helix, which in turn stimulates the YjeQ GTPase activity. Hydrolysis of GTP is believed to assist the release of YjeQ from the mature 30S subunit through a still uncharacterized mechanism. These results identify the structural determinants in YjeQ that implement the functional interplay with RbfA.


30S subunit; GTPase; RbfA protein; RsgA protein; YjeQ protein; ribosome assembly

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