At the end of translation in bacteria, ribosome recycling factor (RRF) is used together with Elongation Factor G (EF-G) to recycle the 30S and 50S ribosomal subunits for the next round of translation. In x-ray crystal structures of RRF with the Escherichia coli 70S ribosome, RRF binds to the large ribosomal subunit in the cleft that contains the peptidyl transferase center (PTC). Upon binding of either E. coli or T. thermophilus RRF to the E. coli ribosome, the tip of ribosomal RNA helix H69 in the large subunit moves away from the small subunit toward RRF by 8 Å, thereby disrupting a key contact between the small and large ribosomal subunits, termed bridge B2a. In the ribosome crystals, the ability of RRF to destabilize bridge B2a is influenced by crystal packing forces. Movement of H69 involves an ordered to disordered transition upon binding of RRF to the ribosome. The disruption of bridge B2a upon RRF binding to the ribosome seen in the present structures reveals one of the key roles that RRF plays in ribosome recycling, the dissociation of 70S ribosomes into subunits. The structures also reveal contacts between Domain II of RRF and protein S12 in the 30S subunit that may also play a role in ribosome recycling.
Ribosome binding factor A (RbfA) is a bacterial cold-shock response protein, required for an efficient processing of the 5′end of the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) during assembly of the small (30S) ribosomal subunit. Here we present a crystal structure of Thermus thermophilus RbfA and a three-dimensional cryo-electron microscopic (EM) map of the T. thermophilus 30S·RbfA complex. RbfA binds to the 30S subunit in a position overlapping the binding sites of the A- and P-site tRNAs, and RbfA’s functionally important C-terminus extends toward the 5′ end of the 16S rRNA. In the presence of RbfA, a portion of the 16S rRNA encompassing helix 44, which is known to be directly involved in mRNA decoding and tRNA binding, is displaced. These results shed light on the role played by RbfA during maturation of the 30S subunit, and also indicate how RbfA provides cells with a translational advantage under conditions of cold shock.
The majority of constitutive proteins in the bacterial 30S ribosomal subunit have orthologues in Eukarya and Archaea. The eukaryotic counterparts for the remainder (S6, S16, S18 and S20) have not been identified. We assumed that amino acid residues in the ribosomal proteins that contact rRNA are to be constrained in evolution and that the most highly conserved of them are those residues that are involved in forming the secondary protein structure. We aligned the sequences of the bacterial ribosomal proteins from the S20p, S18p and S16p families, which make multiple contacts with rRNA in the Thermus thermophilus 30S ribosomal subunit (in contrast to the S6p family), with the sequences of the unassigned eukaryotic small ribosomal subunit protein families. This made it possible to reveal that the conserved structural motifs of S20p, S18p and S16p that contact rRNA in the bacterial ribosome are present in the ribosomal proteins S25e, S26e and S27Ae, respectively. We suggest that ribosomal protein families S20p, S18p and S16p are homologous to the families S25e, S26e and S27Ae, respectively.
In bacteria, the hybrid transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA) rescues ribosomes stalled on defective messenger RNAs (mRNAs). However, certain gram-negative bacteria have evolved proteins that are capable of rescuing stalled ribosomes in a tmRNA-independent manner. Here, we report a 3.2 angstrom–resolution crystal structure of the rescue factor YaeJ bound to the Thermus thermophilus 70S ribosome in complex with the initiator tRNAifMet and a short mRNA. The structure reveals that the C-terminal tail of YaeJ functions as a sensor to discriminate between stalled and actively translating ribosomes by binding in the mRNA entry channel downstream of the A site between the head and shoulder of the 30S subunit. This allows the N-terminal globular domain to sample different conformations, so that its conserved GGQ motif is optimally positioned to catalyze the hydrolysis of peptidyl-tRNA. This structure gives insights into the mechanism of YaeJ function and provides a basis for understanding how it rescues stalled ribosomes.
During protein synthesis, the ribosome selects aminoacyl-tRNAs with anticodons matching the mRNA codon present in the A-site of the small ribosomal subunit. The aminoglycoside antibiotic streptomycin disrupts decoding by binding close to the site of codon recognition. Here we use X-ray crystallography to define the impact of streptomycin on the decoding site of the Thermus thermophilus 30S ribosomal subunit in complexes with cognate or near-cognate anticodon stem-loop analogs (ASLs) and mRNA. Our crystal structures display a significant local distortion of 16S rRNA induced by streptomycin, including the crucial bases A1492 and A1493 that participate directly in codon recognition. Consistent with kinetic data, we observe that streptomycin stabilizes the near-cognate ASL complex, while destabilizing the cognate ASL complex. These data reveal how streptomycin disrupts the recognition of cognate ASLs and yet improves recognition of a near-cognate ASL.
Thermorubin is a small molecule inhibitor of bacterial protein synthesis, but relatively little is known about the molecular mechanism by which it blocks translation. The structure of the complex between thermorubin and the 70S ribosome from Thermus thermophilus reported here shows that thermorubin interacts with the ribosome in a way that is distinct from any other known class of ribosome inhibitor. Though it is structurally similar to tetracycline, it binds to the ribosome at an entirely different location - the interface between the small and large subunits that is formed by intersubunit bridge B2a. This region of the ribosome is known to play a role in the initiation of translation, and thus the binding site we observe is consistent with evidence suggesting that thermorubin inhibits the initiation stage of protein synthesis. The binding of thermorubin induces a rearrangement of two bases on helix 69 of the 23S rRNA and presumably this rearrangement blocks the binding of an A-site tRNA, thereby inhibiting peptide bond formation. Due in part to its low solubility in aqueous media, thermorubin has not been used clinically, although it is a potent antibacterial agent with low toxicity (Theraputic Index > 200). The interactions between thermorubin and the ribosome, as well as its adjacency to the observed binding sites of three other antibiotic classes, may enable the design of novel derivatives that share thermorubin’s mode of action but possess improved pharmacodynamic properties.
The ribosomal stalk complex, consisting of one molecule of L10 and four or six molecules of L12, is attached to 23S rRNA via protein L10. This complex forms the so-called ‘L12 stalk’ on the 50S ribosomal subunit. Ribosomal protein L11 binds to the same region of 23S rRNA and is located at the base of the ‘L12 stalk’. The ‘L12 stalk’ plays a key role in the interaction of the ribosome with translation factors. In this study stalk complexes from mesophilic and (hyper)thermophilic species of the archaeal genus Methanococcus and from the Archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus, as well as from the Bacteria Escherichia coli, Geobacillus stearothermophilus and Thermus thermophilus, were overproduced in E.coli and purified under non-denaturing conditions. Using filter-binding assays the affinities of the archaeal and bacterial complexes to their specific 23S rRNA target site were analyzed at different pH, ionic strength and temperature. Affinities of both archaeal and bacterial complexes for 23S rRNA vary by more than two orders of magnitude, correlating very well with the growth temperatures of the organisms. A cooperative effect of binding to 23S rRNA of protein L11 and the L10/L124 complex from mesophilic and thermophilic Archaea was shown to be temperature-dependent.
Post-transcriptional modification of ribosomal RNA occurs in all kingdoms of life. The S-adenosyl-L-me-thionine-dependent methyltransferase KsgA introduces the most highly conserved ribosomal RNA modification, the dimethylation of A1518 and A1519 of 16S rRNA. Loss of this dimethylation confers resistance to the antibiotic kasugamycin. Here, we report biochemical studies and high-resolution crystal structures of KsgA from Thermus thermophilus. Methylation of 30S ribosomal subunits by T. thermophilus KsgA is more efficient at low concentrations of magnesium ions suggesting that partially unfolded RNA is the preferred substrate. The overall structure is similar to other methyltransferases but contains an additional α-helix in a novel N-terminal extension. Comparison of the apo-enzyme with complex structures with 5’-methylthioadenosine or adenosine bound in the cofactor-binding site reveal novel features when compared to related enzymes. Several mobile loop regions are observed that restrict access to the cofactor-binding site. In addition, the orientation of residues in the substrate-binding site indicates that conformational changes are required for binding two adjacent residues of the substrate rRNA.
ribosome modification; 16S rRNA; 30S ribosomal subunit; rRNA methyltransferase; kasugamycin
Here we compare the structural and evolutionary attributes of Thermus thermophilus and Escherichia coli small ribosomal subunits (SSU). Our results indicate that with few exceptions, thermophilic 16S ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA) is densely packed compared to that of mesophilic at most of the analogous spatial regions. In addition, we have located species-specific cavity clusters (SSCCs) in both species. E. coli SSCCs are numerous and larger compared to T. thermophilus SSCCs, which again indicates densely packed thermophilic 16S rRNA. Thermophilic ribosomal proteins (r-proteins) have longer disordered regions than their mesophilic homologs and they experience larger disorder-to-order transitions during SSU-assembly. This is reflected in the predicted higher conformational changes of thermophilic r-proteins compared to their mesophilic homologs during SSU-assembly. This high conformational change of thermophilic r-proteins may help them to associate with the 16S ribosomal RNA with high complementary interfaces, larger interface areas, and denser molecular contacts, compared to those of mesophilic. Thus, thermophilic protein-rRNA interfaces are tightly associated with 16S rRNA than their mesophilic homologs. Densely packed 16S rRNA interior and tight protein-rRNA binding of T. thermophilus (compared to those of E. coli) are likely the signatures of its thermal adaptation. We have found a linear correlation between the free energy of protein-RNA interface formation, interface size, and square of conformational changes, which is followed in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic SSU. Disorder is associated with high protein-RNA interface polarity. We have found an evolutionary tendency to maintain high polarity (thereby disorder) at protein-rRNA interfaces, than that at rest of the protein structures. However, some proteins exhibit exceptions to this general trend.
Translational GTPases (trGTPases) are involved in all four stages of protein biosynthesis: initiation, elongation, termination and ribosome recycling. The trGTPases Initiation Factor 2 (IF2) and Elongation Factor G (EF-G) respectively orchestrate initiation complex formation and translocation of the peptidyl-tRNA:mRNA complex through the bacterial ribosome. The ribosome regulates the GTPase cycle and efficiently discriminates between the GDP- and GTP-bound forms of these proteins. Using Isothermal Titration Calorimetry, we have investigated interactions of IF2 and EF-G with the sarcin-ricin loop of the 23S rRNA, a crucial element of the GTPase-associated center of the ribosome. We show that binding of IF2 and EF-G to a 27 nucleotide RNA fragment mimicking the sarcin-ricin loop is mutually exclusive with that of GDP, but not of GTP, providing a mechanism for destabilization of the ribosome-bound GDP forms of translational GTPases.
Ribosomes from the extreme thermophile Thermus thermophilus are capable of translation in a coupled transcription–translation system derived from Escherichia coli. At 45°C, T.thermophilus ribosomes translate at ∼25–30% of the maximal rate of E.coli ribosomes, and synthesize full-length protein. T.thermophilus and E.coli subunits can be combined to effect translation, with the spectrum of proteins produced depending upon the source of the 30S subunit. In this system, T.thermophilus ribosomes function in concert with E.coli translational factors and tRNAs, with elongation and release factors being supplied from the E.coli extract, and purified initiation factors (IFs) being added exogenously. Cloned and purified T.thermophilus IF1, IF2 and IF3 supported the synthesis of the same products in vitro as the E.coli factors, although the relative levels of some polypeptides were factor dependent. We conclude that, at least between these two phylogenetically distant species, translational factor function and subunit–subunit interactions are conserved. This functional compatibility is remarkable given the extreme and highly divergent environments to which these species have adapted.
Ribosomal protein L1 has a dual function as a ribosomal protein binding 23S rRNA and as a translational repressor binding its mRNA. L1 is a two-domain protein with N- and C-termini located in domain I. Earlier it was shown that L1 interacts with the same targets on both rRNA and mRNA mainly through domain I. We have suggested that domain I is necessary and sufficient for specific RNA-binding by L1. To test this hypothesis, a truncation mutant of L1 from Thermus thermophilus, representing domain I, was constructed by deletion of the central part of the L1 sequence, which corresponds to domain II. It was shown that the isolated domain I forms stable complexes with specific fragments of both rRNA and mRNA. The crystal structure of the isolated domain I was determined and compared with the structure of this domain within the intact protein L1. This comparison revealed a close similarity of both structures. Our results confirm our suggestion that in protein L1 its domain I alone is sufficient for specific RNA binding, whereas domain II stabilizes the L1-rRNA complex.
Tetracycline blocks stable binding of aminoacyl-tRNA to the bacterial ribosomal A-site. Various tetracycline binding sites have been identified in crystals of the 30S ribosomal small subunit of Thermus thermophilus. Here we describe a direct photo- affinity modification of the ribosomal small subunits of Escherichia coli with 7-[3H]-tetracycline. To select for specific interactions, an excess of the 30S subunits over tetracycline has been used. Primer extension analysis of the 16S rRNA revealed two sites of the modifications: C936 and C948. Considering available data on tetracycline interactions with the prokaryotic 30S subunits, including the presented data (E.coli), X-ray data (T.thermophilus) and genetic data (Helicobacter pylori, E.coli), a second high affinity tetracycline binding site is proposed within the 3′-major domain of the 16S rRNA, in addition to the A-site related tetracycline binding site.
Ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) inhibit protein synthesis by enzymatically depurinating a specific adenine residue at the sarcin-ricin loop of the 28S rRNA, which thereby prevents the binding of elongation factors to the GTPase activation centre of the ribosome. Here, we present the 2.2 Å crystal structure of trichosanthin (TCS) complexed to the peptide SDDDMGFGLFD, which corresponds to the conserved C-terminal elongation factor binding domain of the ribosomal P protein. The N-terminal region of this peptide interacts with Lys173, Arg174 and Lys177 in TCS, while the C-terminal region is inserted into a hydrophobic pocket. The interaction with the P protein contributes to the ribosome-inactivating activity of TCS. This 11-mer C-terminal P peptide can be docked with selected important plant and bacterial RIPs, indicating that a similar interaction may also occur with other RIPs.
While the majority of the ribosomal RNA structure is conserved in the three major domains of life – archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes, specific regions of the rRNA structure are unique to at least one of these three primary forms of life. In particular, the comparative secondary structure for the eukaryotic SSU rRNA contains several regions that are different from the analogous regions in the bacteria. Our detailed analysis of two recently determined eukaryotic 40S ribosomal crystal structures, Tetrahymena thermophila and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the comparison of these results with the bacterial Thermus thermophilus 30S ribosomal crystal structure: (1) revealed that the vast majority of the comparative structure model for the eukaryotic SSU rRNA is substantiated, including the secondary structure that is similar to both bacteria and archaea as well as specific for the eukaryotes, (2) resolved the secondary structure for regions of the eukaryotic SSU rRNA that were not determined with comparative methods, (3) identified eukaryotic helices that are equivalent to the bacterial helices in several of the hypervariable regions, (4) revealed that, while the coaxially stacked compound helix in the 540 region in the central domain maintains the constant length of 10 base pairs, its two constituent helices contain 5+5 bp rather than the 6+4 bp predicted with comparative analysis of archaeal and eukaryotic SSU rRNAs.
Prokaryotic class I release factors (RFs) respond to mRNA stop codons and terminate protein synthesis. They interact with the ribosomal decoding site and the peptidyl-transferase centre bridging these 75 Å distant ribosomal centres. For this an elongated RF conformation, with partially unfolded core domains II·III·IV is required, which contrasts the known compact RF crystal structures. The crystal structure of Thermus thermophilus RF2 was determined and compared with solution structure of T. thermophilus and Escherichia coli RF2 by microcalorimetry, circular dichroism spectroscopy and small angle X-ray scattering. The structure of T. thermophilus RF2 in solution at 20°C is predominantly compact like the crystal structure. Thermodynamic analysis point to an initial melting of domain I, which is independent from the melting of the core. The core domains II·III·IV melt cooperatively at the respective physiological temperatures for T. thermophilus and E. coli. Thermodynamic analyses and the X-ray scattering results for T. thermophilus RF2 in solution suggest that the compact conformation of RF2 resembles a physiological state in absence of the ribosome.
The crystal structures of the eubacterial translation initiation factor 2 in apo form and with bound GDP and GTP reveal conformational changes upon nucleotide binding and hydrolysis, notably of the catalytically important histidine in the switch II region.
Translation initiation factor 2 (IF2) is involved in the early steps of bacterial protein synthesis. It promotes the stabilization of the initiator tRNA on the 30S initiation complex (IC) and triggers GTP hydrolysis upon ribosomal subunit joining. While the structure of an archaeal homologue (a/eIF5B) is known, there are significant sequence and functional differences in eubacterial IF2, while the trimeric eukaryotic IF2 is completely unrelated. Here, the crystal structure of the apo IF2 protein core from Thermus thermophilus has been determined by MAD phasing and the structures of GTP and GDP complexes were also obtained. The IF2–GTP complex was trapped by soaking with GTP in the cryoprotectant. The structures revealed conformational changes of the protein upon nucleotide binding, in particular in the P-loop region, which extend to the functionally relevant switch II region. The latter carries a catalytically important and conserved histidine residue which is observed in different conformations in the GTP and GDP complexes. Overall, this work provides the first crystal structure of a eubacterial IF2 and suggests that activation of GTP hydrolysis may occur by a conformational repositioning of the histidine residue.
translation initiation factor 2; Thermus thermophilus; GTP; GDP
Eubacteria inactivate their ribosomes as 100S dimers or 70S monomers upon entry into stationary phase. In Escherichia coli, 100S dimer formation is mediated by ribosome modulation factor (RMF) and hibernation promoting factor (HPF), or alternatively, the YfiA protein inactivates ribosomes as 70S monomers. Here, we present high-resolution crystal structures of the Thermus thermophilus 70S ribosome in complex with each of these stationary-phase factors. The binding site of RMF overlaps with that of the messenger RNA (mRNA) Shine-Dalgarno sequence, which prevents the interaction between the mRNA and the 16S ribosomal RNA. The nearly identical binding sites of HPF and YfiA overlap with those of the mRNA, transfer RNA, and initiation factors, which prevents translation initiation. The binding of RMF and HPF, but not YfiA, to the ribosome induces a conformational change of the 30S head domain that promotes 100S dimer formation.
Protein synthesis requires several GTPase factors, including Elongation Factor Tu (EF-Tu), which delivers aminoacyl-tRNAs to the ribosome. In order to understand how the ribosome triggers GTP hydrolysis in translational GTPases, we have determined the crystal structure of EF-Tu and aminoacyl-tRNA bound to the ribosome with a GTP analog, to 3.2 Å resolution. EF-Tu is in its active conformation, the Switch I loop is ordered, and the catalytic histidine is coordinating the nucleophilic water in position for in-line attack on the γ-phosphate of GTP. This activated conformation is due to a critical and conserved interaction of the histidine with A2662 of the Sarcin-Ricin Loop of the 23S rRNA. The structure suggests a universal mechanism for GTPase activation and hydrolysis in translational GTPases on the ribosome.
Elongation factor P (EF-P) is an essential protein that stimulates the formation of the first peptide bond in protein synthesis. Here we report the crystal structure of EF-P bound to the Thermus thermophilus 70S ribosome along with the initiator transfer RNA N-formyl-methionyl-tRNAi (fMet-tRNAifMet) and a short piece of messenger RNA (mRNA) at a resolution of 3.5 angstroms. EF-P binds to a site located between the binding site for the peptidyl tRNA (P site) and the exiting tRNA (E site). It spans both ribosomal subunits with its amino terminal domain positioned adjacent to the aminoacyl acceptor stem and its carboxyl terminal domain positioned next to the anticodon stem-loop of the P site–bound initiator tRNA. Domain II of EF-P interacts with the ribosomal protein L1, which results in the largest movement of the L1 stalk that has been observed in the absence of ratcheting of the ribosomal subunits. EF-P facilitates the proper positioning of the fMet-tRNAifMet for the formation of the first peptide bond during translation initiation.
Biogenesis of the large ribosomal subunit requires the coordinate assembly of two rRNAs and 33 ribosomal proteins. In vivo, additional ribosome assembly factors, such as helicases, GTPases, pseudouridine synthetases, and methyltransferases, are also critical for ribosome assembly. To identify novel ribosome-associated proteins, we used a proteomic approach (isotope tagging for relative and absolute quantitation) that allows for semiquantitation of proteins from complex protein mixtures. Ribosomal subunits were separated by sucrose density centrifugation, and the relevant fractions were pooled and analyzed. The utility and reproducibility of the technique were validated via a double duplex labeling method. Next, we examined proteins from 30S, 50S, and translating ribosomes isolated at both 16°C and 37°C. We show that the use of isobaric tags to quantify proteins from these particles is an excellent predictor of the particles with which the proteins associate. Moreover, in addition to bona fide ribosomal proteins, additional proteins that comigrated with different ribosomal particles were detected, including both known ribosomal assembly factors and unknown proteins. The ribosome association of several of these proteins, as well as others predicted to be associated with ribosomes, was verified by immunoblotting. Curiously, deletion mutants for the majority of these ribosome-associated proteins had little effect on cell growth or on the polyribosome profiles.
Crystal structures of the 50S ribosomal subunit from H. marismortui complexed with two antibiotics have identified new sites at which antibiotics interact with the ribosome and inhibit protein synthesis. 13-deoxytedanolide binds to the E site of the 50S subunit at the same location as the CCA of tRNA, and thus appears to inhibit protein synthesis by competing with deacylated tRNAs for E site binding. Girodazole binds near the E-site region, but is somewhat buried and may inhibit tRNA binding by interfering with conformational changes that occur at the E site. The specificity of 13-deoxytedanolide for eukaryotic ribosomes is explained by its extensive interactions with protein L44e which is an E-site component of archaeal and eukaryotic ribosomes, but not of eubacterial ribosomes. In addition, protein L28, which is unique to the eubacterial E site, overlaps the site occupied by 13-deoxytedanolide, precluding its binding to eubacterial ribosomes. Girodazole is specific for eukarytes and archaea because it makes interactions with L15 that are not possible in eubacteria.
Translocation during the elongation phase of protein synthesis involves the relative movement of the 30S and 50S ribosomal subunits. This movement is the target of tuberactinomycin antibiotics. Here, we describe the isolation and characterization of mutants of Thermus thermophilus selected for resistance to the tuberactinomycin antibiotic capreomycin. Two base substitutions, A1913U and mU1915G, and a single base deletion, ΔmU1915, were identified in helix 69 of 23S rRNA, a structural element that forms part of an interribosomal subunit bridge with the decoding center of 16S rRNA, the site of previously reported capreomycin resistance base substitutions. Capreomycin resistance in other bacteria has been shown to result from inactivation of the TlyA methyltransferase which 2′-O methylates C1920 of 23S rRNA. Inactivation of the tlyA gene in T. thermophilus does not affect its sensitivity to capreomycin. Finally, none of the mutations in helix 69 interferes with methylation at C1920 or with pseudouridylation at positions 1911 and 1917. We conclude that the resistance phenotype is a consequence of structural changes introduced by the mutations.
Early steps of eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis require a large set of ribosome biogenesis factors which transiently interact with nascent rRNA precursors (pre-rRNA). Most likely, concomitant with that initial contacts between ribosomal proteins (r-proteins) and ribosome precursors (pre-ribosomes) are established which are converted into robust interactions between pre-rRNA and r-proteins during the course of ribosome maturation. Here we analysed the interrelationship between r-protein assembly events and the transient interactions of ribosome biogenesis factors with early pre-ribosomal intermediates termed 90S pre-ribosomes or small ribosomal subunit (SSU) processome in yeast cells. We observed that components of the SSU processome UTP-A and UTP-B sub-modules were recruited to early pre-ribosomes independently of all tested r-proteins. On the other hand, groups of SSU processome components were identified whose association with early pre-ribosomes was affected by specific r-protein assembly events in the head-platform interface of the SSU. One of these components, Noc4p, appeared to be itself required for robust incorporation of r-proteins into the SSU head domain. Altogether, the data reveal an emerging network of specific interrelationships between local r-protein assembly events and the functional interactions of SSU processome components with early pre-ribosomes. They point towards some of these components being transient primary pre-rRNA in vivo binders and towards a role for others in coordinating the assembly of major SSU domains.
The structure of a complex of two ribosome synthesis factors and identification of their ribosomal binding sites provides insights into early stages of ribosome biogenesis.
A multitude of proteins and small nucleolar RNAs transiently associate with eukaryotic ribosomal RNAs to direct their modification and processing and the assembly of ribosomal proteins. Utp22 and Rrp7, two interacting proteins with no recognizable domain, are components of the 90S preribosome or the small subunit processome that conducts early processing of 18S rRNA. Here, we determine the cocrystal structure of Utp22 and Rrp7 complex at 1.97 Å resolution and the NMR structure of a C-terminal fragment of Rrp7, which is not visible in the crystal structure. The structure reveals that Utp22 surprisingly resembles a dimeric class I tRNA CCA-adding enzyme yet with degenerate active sites, raising an interesting evolutionary connection between tRNA and rRNA processing machineries. Rrp7 binds extensively to Utp22 using a deviant RNA recognition motif and an extended linker. Functional sites on the two proteins were identified by structure-based mutagenesis in yeast. We show that Rrp7 contains a flexible RNA-binding C-terminal tail that is essential for association with preribosomes. RNA–protein crosslinking shows that Rrp7 binds at the central domain of 18S rRNA and shares a neighborhood with two processing H/ACA snoRNAs snR30 and snR10. Depletion of snR30 prevents the stable assembly of Rrp7 into preribosomes. Our results provide insight into the evolutionary origin and functional context of Utp22 and Rrp7.
Ribosomes are large RNA–protein complexes that manufacture proteins in all living organisms. Synthesis of large and small ribosomal subunits is a fundamental and enormous task that requires activities of approximately 200 assembly factors in eukaryotic cells. These factors transiently associate with the ribosome, forming a series of pre-ribosomal particles. We currently have a poor understanding of the structure and assembly of ribosome precursors. Utp22 and Rrp7 are two interacting proteins present in early precursors of the small ribosomal subunit. In this study, we determined the structure of the Utp22 and Rrp7 complex by X-ray crystallography and NMR and dissected their functional domains by mutagenesis. The structure of Utp22 reveals an unexpected structural similarity to the tRNA CCA-adding enzyme, providing insight into the evolutionary origin of Utp22. Utp22 apparently lacks any enzymatic activity and functions instead as a structural building block. Rrp7 associates extensively with Utp22 and appears to be anchored to pre-ribosomes via a flexible RNA-binding tail. We used RNA–protein crosslinking to identify the binding site and neighboring factor of Rrp7 on pre-ribosomes. Our study provides a detailed insight into the structure of small ribosomal subunit precursors.