New features of 23S ribosomal RNA folding: The long helix 41-42 makes a 'U-turn' inside the ribosome

Pavel V. Baranov, Olga L. Gurvich, Alexey A. Bogdanov, Richard Brimacombe, Olga A. Dontsova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


23S rRNA from Escherichia coli was cleaved at single internucleotide bonds using ribonuclease H in the presence of appropriate chimeric oligonucleotides; the individual cleavage sites were between residues 384 and 385, 867 and 868, 1045 and 1046, and 2510 and 2511, with an additional fortuitous cleavage at positions 1117 and 1118. In each case, the 3' terminus of the 5' fragment was ligated to radioactively labeled 4-thiouridine 5'-, 3'-biphosphate ('psUp'), and the cleaved 23S rRNA carrying this label was reconstituted into 50S subunits. The 50S subunits were able to associate normally with 30S subunits to form 70S ribosomes. Intra-RNA crosslinks from the 4-thiouridine residues were induced by irradiation at 350 nm, and the crosslink sites within the 23S rRNA were analyzed. The rRNA molecules carrying psUp at positions 867 and 1117 showed crosslinks to nearby positions on the opposite strand of the same double helix where the cleavage was located, and no crosslinking was detected from position 2510. In contrast, the rRNA carrying psUp at position 384 showed crosslinking to nt 420 (and sometimes also to 416 and 425) in the neighboring helix in 23S rRNA, and the rRNA with psUp at position 1045 gave a crosslink to residue 993. The latter crosslink demonstrates that the long helix 41-42 of the 23S rRNA (which carries the region associated with GTPase activity) must double back on itself, forming a 'U-turn' in the ribosome. This result is discussed in terms of the topography of the GTPase region in the 50S subunit, and its relation to the locations of the 5S rRNA and the peptidyl transferase center.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-668
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • 23S rRNA
  • 4-Thiouridine cross-linking
  • Chimeric oligonucleotides
  • GTPase center
  • Ribonuclease H cleavage
  • Ribosome structure


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