Structural and Genetic Studies of Translation in Escherichia coli

by Zhao, Qing

Abstract (Summary)
Ribosomes are the universal ribonucleoprotein organelles that translate the genetic message from mRNA to protein. In prokaryotes, the ribosomal subunits are 30S and 50S subunit, which bind together during the translation process forming 70S ribosome. The ribosome is a highly dynamic structure, and acts as a working platform for the different factors involved in the process of converting the genetic information into protein.Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) is an emerging imaging technology that combines the potential of three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction at molecular resolution with a close-to-native preservation of the specimen. Here, we have applied this method to reconstruct rifampicin-treated Escherichia coli individual 30S subunits in vitro and in situ, and individual 50S subunits in situ. In the 30S subunit, the head, the platform and the body show large conformational movements relative to each other. The particles are grouped into three conformational groups according to the width/height ratios. Also, an S15 fusion protein derivative has been used as a physical reporter to localize S15 in the 30S subunit. In the 50S subunit, the L1 stalk, the L7/L12 stalk, the central protuberance (CP), and the peptidyl transferase center (PTC) cleft are the most dynamic and flexible parts in the reconstructed structures with clear movements indicated. Different locations of the tunnel in the central cross-sections through the in situ 50S subunits indicate a flexible pathway inside the large subunit. In addition, gross morphological changes were also been observed in our reconstructions. Our results demonstrate a considerable conformational flexibility among individual ribosomal subunits, both in vitro and in situ.Translation is an essential process for all cells and organisms. Translation initiation is the rate-limiting step and the most highly regulated phase of translation process. Several regions along the mRNA have been reported to influence translation initiation. The Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence located 5-9 bases upstream of the initiation codon supports translation initiation by complementary binding to the Anti-Shine-Dalgarno (ASD) sequence on the 16S rRNA.We have here compared how an SD+ sequence influences gene expression, if located upstream or downstream of an initiation codon. The positive effect of an upstream SD+ is confirmed. A downstream SD+ gives decreased gene expression. If an SD+ is placed between two potential initiation codons, initiation takes place predominantly at the second start site. The first start site is activated if the distance between this site and the downstream SD+ is enlarged and/or if the second start site is weakened. Upstream initiation is eliminated if a stable stem-loop structure is placed between this SD+ and the upstream start site. The results suggest that the two start sites compete for ribosomes that bind to an SD+ located between them. A minor positive contribution to upstream initiation resulting from 3’ to 5’ ribosomal diffusion along the mRNA is suggested. Since the location of SD+ or SD-like sequences can strongly influence gene expression, this should be of significant evolutionary importance.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; Microbiology, immunology, infectious diseases; electron tomography; ribosome; 30S subunit; 50S subunit; rifampicin; Escherichia coli; Translation initiation; Initiation codon; Downstream Region (DR)


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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