Ribosomes and functional complexes of them have been analyzed at the atomic level. Far less is known about the dynamic assembly and degradation events that define the half-life of ribosomes and guarantee their quality control.
We developed a system that allows visualization of intact ribosomal subunits and assembly intermediates (i.e. assembly landscapes) by convenient fluorescence-based analysis. To this end, we labeled the early assembly ribosomal proteins L1 and S15 with the fluorescent proteins mAzami green and mCherry, respectively, using chromosomal gene insertion. The reporter strain harbors fluorescently labeled ribosomal subunits that operate wild type-like, as shown by biochemical and growth assays. Using genetic and chemical perturbations by depleting genes encoding the ribosomal proteins L3 and S17, respectively, or using ribosome-targeting antibiotics, we provoked ribosomal subunit assembly defects. These defects were readily identified by fluorometric analysis after sucrose density centrifugation in unprecedented resolution.
This strategy is useful to monitor and characterize subunit specific assembly defects caused by ribosome-targeting drugs that are currently used and to characterize new molecules that affect ribosome assembly and thereby constitute new classes of antibacterial agents.
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