Role of 16S ribosomal RNA methylations in translation initiation in Escherichia coli

Gautam Das, Dinesh Kumar Thotala, Suman Kapoor, Sheelarani Karunanithi, Suman S. Thakur, N. Sadananda Singh, Umesh Varshney

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51 Scopus citations


Translation initiation from the ribosomal P-site is the specialty of the initiator tRNAs (tRNAfMet). Presence of the three consecutive G-C base pairs (G29-C41, G30-C40 and G31-C39) in their anticodon stems, a highly conserved feature of the initiator tRNAs across the three kingdoms of life, has been implicated in their preferential binding to the P-site. How this feature is exploited by ribosomes has remained unclear. Using a genetic screen, we have isolated an Escherichia coli strain, carrying a G122D mutation in folD, which allows initiation with the tRNAfMet containing mutations in one, two or all the three G-C base pairs. The strain shows a severe deficiency of methionine and S-adenosylmethionine, and lacks nucleoside methylations in rRNA. Targeted mutations in the methyltransferase genes have revealed a connection between the rRNA modifications and the fundamental process of the initiator tRNA selection by the ribosome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-851
Number of pages12
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 19 2008


  • 5,10 methylene tetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase
  • Methyltransferase
  • Modified nucleoside
  • S-adenosyl-L-methionine
  • folD


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