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Eur J Biochem. 1997 Jun 15;246(3):786-93.

Post-translational processing of rat ribosomal proteins. Ubiquitous methylation of Lys22 within the zinc-finger motif of RL40 (carboxy-terminal extension protein 52) and tissue-specific methylation of Lys4 in RL29.

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Russell Grimwade School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Melbourne, Australia.


The complete amino acid sequences of rat and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) ribosomal proteins derived from precursors containing an N-terminal ubiquitin or ubiquitin-like sequence (C-terminal extension proteins or CEPs) were determined and investigated for any post-translational modifications by reverse-phase HPLC purification, direct amino acid sequence and mass spectrometric analyses. Covalent modifications were detected in the rat liver proteins RS27a (CEP-80), RL29, RL37 and RL40 (CEP-52), while RS30 (CEP), RL36a, RL39 and RL41 were unmodified. Heterogeneity of RS27a was due to C-terminal truncations, with Lys80 missing from about 20% of the liver RS27a population; C-terminal processing was also detected with RL29 and RL37. No other covalent modifications of liver, brain or thymus RS27a were detected. The rat RL40 structure was identical to the cDNA-predicted sequence except for complete stoichiometric N epsilon-trimethylation of Lys22 within its zinc-finger motif; this modification occurred in the ribosomes of all three rat tissues investigated but not in yeast ribosomes. The methylation characteristics of RL40 were distinct from those of ribosomal protein RL29 in the rat, which was differentially monomethylated at Lys4 in the liver, brain and thymus (27%, > 99% and 95% methylation, respectively). In the case of liver, there was no appreciable difference in the RL29 methylation status of free and membrane-bound ribosomes. The possibilities of an essential role for RL40 methylation in the formation of rat ribosomes, and a distinct regulatory role for RL29 methylation in the rat, are discussed.

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