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RNA. 2012 Dec;18(12):2187-200. doi: 10.1261/rna.034751.112. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Kinetic analysis of pre-ribosome structure in vivo.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, Scotland.


Pre-ribosomal particles undergo numerous structural changes during maturation, but their high complexity and short lifetimes make these changes very difficult to follow in vivo. In consequence, pre-ribosome structure and composition have largely been inferred from purified particles and analyzed in vitro. Here we describe techniques for kinetic analyses of the changes in pre-ribosome structure in living cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To allow this, in vivo structure probing by DMS modification was combined with affinity purification of newly synthesized 20S pre-rRNA over a time course of metabolic labeling with 4-thiouracil. To demonstrate that this approach is generally applicable, we initially analyzed the accessibility of the region surrounding cleavage site D site at the 3' end of the mature 18S rRNA region of the pre-rRNA. This revealed a remarkably flexible structure throughout 40S subunit biogenesis, with little stable RNA-protein interaction apparent. Analysis of folding in the region of the 18S central pseudoknot was consistent with previous data showing U3 snoRNA-18S rRNA interactions. Dynamic changes in the structure of the hinge between helix 28 (H28) and H44 of pre-18S rRNA were consistent with recently reported interactions with the 3' guide region of U3 snoRNA. Finally, analysis of the H18 region indicates that the RNA structure matures early, but additional protection appears subsequently, presumably reflecting protein binding. The structural analyses described here were performed on total, affinity-purified, newly synthesized RNA, so many classes of RNA and RNA-protein complex are potentially amenable to this approach.

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