Ribosomes are the cellular machinery responsible for protein synthesis. A well-orchestrated step in the elongation cycle of protein synthesis is the precise translocation of the tRNA-mRNA complex within the ribosome. Here we report the application of a new in vitro modification-interference method for the identification of bases in 16S rRNA that are essential for translocation. Our results suggest that conserved bases U56, U723, A1306, A1319, and A1468 in 16S rRNA are important for translocation. These five bases were deleted or mutated so their role in translation could be studied. Depending on the type of mutation, we observed inhibition of growth rate, subunit association, tRNA binding, and/or translocation. Interestingly, deletion of U56 or A1319 or mutation of A1319 to C showed a lethal phenotype and were defective in protein synthesis in vitro. Further analysis showed that deletion of U56 or A1319 caused defects in 30S subunit assembly, subunit association, and tRNA binding. In contrast, the A1319C mutation showed no defects in subunit association; however, the extent of tRNA binding and translocation was significantly reduced. These results show that conserved bases located as far as 100 Å from the tRNA binding sites can be important for translation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas