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Eur J Cell Biol. 1982 Jun;27(2):177-84.

Electron microscopic study of free and ribosome bound rRNAs from E. coli.


The morphology of ribosomal subunits, nucleoprotein cores, and free rRNAs from Escherichia coli has been studied by two high resolution electron microscopic techniques. Conventional transmission electron micrographs showed unfolding of 30S and 50S ribosomal subunits with increasing depletion of proteins. With dedicated (0.3 nm resolution) scanning transmission electron microscopy we were able to visualize unstained freeze dried ribosomal subunits and free rRNAs without artifacts of staining and structural distortion by air drying. By this technique, we have also determined the mass of individual ribosomal particles and rRNA molecules. While the ribosomal subunits displayed their characteristic structural features and mass, free rRNAs appeared unfolded and polydisperse. These results provide direct evidence for distinct conformational differences between free rRNAs and native ribosomal subunits of E. coli.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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