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J Mol Biol. 1998 Jun 19;279(4):873-88.

Ribosomal proteins S5 and L6: high-resolution crystal structures and roles in protein synthesis and antibiotic resistance.

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Department of Structural Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 332 North Lauderdale St., Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


Antibiotic resistance is rapidly becoming a major medical problem. Many antibiotics are directed against bacterial ribosomes, and mutations within both the RNA and protein components can render them ineffective. It is well known that the majority of these antibiotics act by binding to the ribosomal RNA, and it is of interest to understand how mutations in the ribosomal proteins can produce resistance. Translational accuracy is one important target of antibiotics, and a number of ribosomal protein mutations in Escherichia coli are known to modulate the proofreading mechanism of the ribosome. Here we describe the high-resolution structures of two such ribosomal proteins and characterize these mutations. The S5 protein, from the small ribosomal unit, is associated with two types of mutations: those that reduce translational fidelity and others that produce resistance to the antibiotic spectinomycin. The L6 protein, from the large subunit, has mutations that cause resistance to several aminoglycoside antibiotics, notably gentamicin. In both proteins, the mutations occur within their putative RNA-binding sites. The L6 mutations are particularly drastic because they result in large deletions of an RNA-binding region. These results support the hypothesis that the mutations create local distortions of the catalytic RNA component.When combined with a variety of structural and biochemical data, these mutations also become important probes of the architecture and function of the translational machinery. We propose that the C-terminal half of S5, which contains the accuracy mutations, organizes RNA structures associated with the decoding region, and the N-terminal half, which contains the spectinomycin-resistance mutations, directly interacts with an RNA helix that binds this antibiotic. As regards L6, we suggest that the mutations indirectly affect proofreading by locally distorting the EF-Tu.GTP.aminoacyl tRNA binding site on the large subunit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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