The ribosome is the RNA-protein complex responsible for protein synthesis in every living cell. The Escherichia coli (E. coli) ribosome, which has a molecular weight of 2.5 MDa, consists of two subunits; the small (SSU) and the large subunit (LSU). The three-dimensional structure of the properly assembled LSU is known from crystallographic data; however, the knowledge of LSU assembly is limited. This knowledge is invaluable to facilitate the design of novel antibiotics targeting ribosome assembly. The goal of this proposal is to gain a detailed understanding of in vivo E. coli LSU assembly. The LSU assembly involves RNA folding, processing and modification, r-proteins binding, and the association and release of maturation factors. DbpA, a DEAD-box RNA helicase, is one of the LSU maturation factors. Expression of the helicase inactive DbpA construct, R331A, produces the accumulation of three LSU particles in-cell. The three particles convert over time to 50S LSU; hence, they are LSU assembly intermediates and not dead-end products of LSU assembly. Moreover, the three intermediates belong to three different stages of LSU assembly and three parallel pathways. Hence, their investigation will produce information on how different LSU assembly processes are coordinated and how different pathways of LSU assembly are interconnected. To our knowledge, this is the only system where three isolatable intermediates from three parallel pathways and different stages of LSU assembly accumulate in-cell; thus, this is the only system in which the coordination of assembly events and the interconnectivity of assembly pathways can be investigated.
In Aim 1, the PI's laboratory will determine the rRNA structure, modification, processing, and the r-protein and maturation factor compositions of three LSU assembly particles. Comparing the rRNA structure, processing, modifications, and the r-protein and maturation factor compositions of the intermediates to each other and to the high-resolution crystal structure of the 50S subunit will identify: (i) rRNA structural isomerizations that must occur for LSU assembly; (ii) rRNA structural motifs' and r-proteins' role in rRNA post-transcriptional modification and processing; (iii) novel LSU maturation factors; (iv) common misfolded rRNA motifs in all LSU assembly pathways. The rRNA structure will be probed by chemical modification and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS). The protein composition of the intermediates will be determined by mass spectrometry.
In Aim 2, the PI's laboratory will investigate the rRNA regions DbpA catalytic core directly acts upon during LSU assembly in-cell and in the particles. UV cross-linking combined with NGS will be used to determine DbpA catalytic core regions of interaction with rRNA. The rRNA regions that the DbpA catalytic core directly contacts in-cell will inform on: (i) how many regions of the LSU DbpA acts upon, and (ii) how many pathways of LSU assembly involve DbpA. Determination of the DbpA catalytic core's native substrates in the particles combined with the knowledge of the misfolded rRNA structure from Aim 1 and the properly assembled 50S crystal structure data will determine DbpA's functional role on LSU assembly.

Public Health Relevance

. According to World Health Organization, pathogenic resistant bacteria are one of the greatest threats to humanity; hence, novel broad range antibiotics are of great public health interest. The ribosome structure is highly conserved in bacteria suggesting that the structure and the physical properties of the intermediates in the assembly pathway are also conserved. The insights obtained from the experiments outlined in this proposal on the molecular structure and physical properties of the intermediates in the Escherichia coli ribosome assembly pathway could guide the design of novel broad range classes of antibiotics, which would kill pathogenic bacteria by preventing the formation of the properly assembled ribosomes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Molecular Genetics A Study Section (MGA)
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Brown, Anissa F
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Johns Hopkins University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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