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J Mol Biol. 1993 Aug 5;232(3):725-31.

Erythromycin binding is reduced in ribosomes with conformational alterations in the 23 S rRNA peptidyl transferase loop.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Odense University, Denmark.


The antibiotic erythromycin inhibits protein synthesis by binding to the 50 S ribosomal subunit, where the drug interacts with the unpaired bases 2058A and 2059A in the peptidyl transferase loop of 23 S rRNA. We used a chemical modification approach to analyse conformational changes that are induced by mutations in the peptidyl transferase loop, and to determine how these changes affect drug interaction. Mutations at positions 2057 (G-->A) and 2058 (A-->G, or -->U), all of which confer drug resistance, induce a more open conformation in the peptidyl transferase loop. Erythromycin still protects against chemical modification in the mutant peptidyl transferase loops, but the affinity of the drug interaction is reduced 20-fold in the 2057A mutant, 10(3)-fold in the 2058U mutant and 10(4)-fold in the 2058G mutant. Single mutations at position 2032 in the adjacent hairpin loop, which have previously been shown to alter drug tolerances, gave no detectable effects on the structure of the peptidyl transferase loop or on erythromycin binding. Dual mutations at positions 2032 and 2058, however, induce a marked change in the rRNA conformation with opening of the phylogenetically conserved base-pair 2063C.2447G, and confer a slow growth, drug-sensitive phenotype. The data suggest that the target site of erythromycin lies within the peptidyl transferase loop, and that limited disruption of the conformation of this site reduces drug binding, and consequently confers resistance. In addition, there is structurally and functionally important interaction between the drug target site in the peptidyl transferase loop and position 2032.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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