skip to main content

Title: Shape changes and cooperativity in the folding of the central domain of the 16S ribosomal RNA

Both the small and large subunits of the ribosome, the molecular machine that synthesizes proteins, are complexes of ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) and a number of proteins. In bacteria, the small subunit has a single 16S rRNA whose folding is the first step in its assembly. The central domain of the 16S rRNA folds independently, driven either by Mg2+ions or by interaction with ribosomal proteins. To provide a quantitative description of ion-induced folding of the ∼350-nucleotide rRNA, we carried out extensive coarse-grained molecular simulations spanning Mg2+concentration between 0 and 30 mM. The Mg2+dependence of the radius of gyration shows that globally the rRNA folds cooperatively. Surprisingly, various structural elements order at different Mg2+concentrations, indicative of the heterogeneous assembly even within a single domain of the rRNA. Binding of Mg2+ions is highly specific, with successive ion condensation resulting in nucleation of tertiary structures. We also predict the Mg2+-dependent protection factors, measurable in hydroxyl radical footprinting experiments, which corroborate the specificity of Mg2+-induced folding. The simulations, which agree quantitatively with several experiments on the folding of a three-way junction, show that its folding is preceded by formation of other tertiary contacts in the central junction. Our work provides a starting point in simulating more » the early events in the assembly of the small subunit of the ribosome.

« less
Authors:
; ;
Award ID(s):
1900093
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10216290
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume:
118
Issue:
10
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. e2020837118
ISSN:
0027-8424
Publisher:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. In vivo, proteins fold and function in a complex environment subject to many stresses that can modulate a protein’s energy landscape. One aspect of the environment pertinent to protein folding is the ribosome, since proteins have the opportunity to fold while still bound to the ribosome during translation. We use a combination of force and chemical denaturant (chemomechanical unfolding), as well as point mutations, to characterize the folding mechanism of the src SH3 domain both as a stalled ribosome nascent chain and free in solution. Our results indicate that src SH3 folds through the same pathway on and off themore »ribosome. Molecular simulations also indicate that the ribosome does not affect the folding pathway for this small protein. Taken together, we conclude that the ribosome does not alter the folding mechanism of this small protein. These results, if general, suggest the ribosome may exert a bigger influence on the folding of multidomain proteins or protein domains that can partially fold before the entire domain sequence is outside the ribosome exit tunnel.

    « less
  2. Abstract

    The influence of the ribosome on nascent chains is poorly understood, especially in the case of proteins devoid of signal or arrest sequences. Here, we provide explicit evidence for the interaction of specific ribosomal proteins with ribosome-bound nascent chains (RNCs). We target RNCs pertaining to the intrinsically disordered protein PIR and a number of mutants bearing a variable net charge. All the constructs analyzed in this work lack N-terminal signal sequences. By a combination chemical crosslinking and Western-blotting, we find that all RNCs interact with ribosomal protein L23 and that longer nascent chains also weakly interact with L29. Themore »interacting proteins are spatially clustered on a specific region of the large ribosomal subunit, close to the exit tunnel. Based on chain-length-dependence and mutational studies, we find that the interactions with L23 persist despite drastic variations in RNC sequence. Importantly, we also find that the interactions are highly Mg+2-concentration-dependent. This work is significant because it unravels a novel role of the ribosome, which is shown to engage with the nascent protein chain even in the absence of signal or arrest sequences.

    « less
  3. Small ribozymes such asOryza sativatwister spontaneously cleave their own RNA when the ribozyme folds into its active conformation. The coupling between twister folding and self-cleavage has been difficult to study, however, because the active ribozyme rapidly converts to product. Here, we describe the synthesis of a photocaged nucleotide that releases guanosine within microseconds upon photosolvolysis with blue light. Application of this tool toO. sativatwister achieved the spatial (75 µm) and temporal (≤30 ms) control required to resolve folding and self-cleavage events when combined with single-molecule fluorescence detection of the ribozyme folding pathway. Real-time observation of single ribozymes after photo-deprotection showedmore »that the precleaved folded state is unstable and quickly unfolds if the RNA does not react. Kinetic analysis showed that Mg2+and Mn2+ions increase ribozyme efficiency by making transitions to the high energy active conformation more probable, rather than by stabilizing the folded ground state or the cleaved product. This tool for light-controlled single RNA folding should offer precise and rapid control of other nucleic acid systems.

    « less
  4. Nopp140, often called the nucleolar and Cajal body phosphoprotein (NOLC1), is an evolutionarily conserved chaperone for the transcription and processing of rRNA during ribosome subunit assembly. Metazoan Nopp140 contains an amino terminal LisH dimerization domain and a highly conserved carboxyl domain. A large central domain consists of alternating basic and acidic motifs of low sequence complexity. Orthologous versions of Nopp140 contain variable numbers of repeating basic–acidic units. While vertebrate Nopp140 genes use multiple exons to encode the central domain, the Nopp140 gene in Drosophila uses exclusively exon 2 to encode the central domain. Here, we define three overlapping repeat sequencemore »patterns (P, P′, and P″) within the central domain of D. melanogaster Nopp140. These repeat patterns are poorly conserved in other Drosophila species. We also describe a length polymorphism in exon 2 that pertains specifically to the P′ pattern in D. melanogaster. The pattern displays either two or three 96 base pair repeats, respectively, referred to as Nopp140-Short and Nopp140-Long. Fly lines homozygous for one or the other allele, or heterozygous for both alleles, show no discernible phenotypes. PCR characterization of the long and short alleles shows a poorly defined, artifactual bias toward amplifying the long allele over the short allele. The significance of this polymorphism will be in discerning the largely unknown properties of Nopp140’s large central domain in rDNA transcription and ribosome biogenesis.« less
  5. Abstract

    Directed evolution of the ribosome for expanded substrate incorporation and novel functions is challenging because the requirement of cell viability limits the mutations that can be made. Here we address this challenge by combining cell-free synthesis and assembly of translationally competent ribosomes with ribosome display to develop a fully in vitro methodology for ribosome synthesis and evolution (called RISE). We validate the RISE method by selecting active genotypes from a ~1.7 × 107member library of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) variants, as well as identifying mutant ribosomes resistant to the antibiotic clindamycin from a library of ~4 × 103rRNA variants. We further demonstrate the prevalencemore »of positive epistasis in resistant genotypes, highlighting the importance of such interactions in selecting for new function. We anticipate that RISE will facilitate understanding of molecular translation and enable selection of ribosomes with altered properties.

    « less