Differential effects of ribosomal proteins and Mg2+ ions on a conformational switch during 30S ribosome 5′-domain assembly

Sanjaya C. Abeysirigunawardena, Sarah A. Woodson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ribosomal protein S4 nucleates assembly of the 30S ribosome 5′ and central domains, which is crucial for the survival of cells. Protein S4 changes the structure of its 16S rRNA binding site, passing through a non-native intermediate complex before forming native S4-rRNA contacts. Ensemble FRET was used to measure the thermodynamic stability of non-native and native S4 complexes in the presence of Mg2+ ions and other 5′-domain proteins. Equilibrium titrations of Cy3-labeled 5′-domain RNA with Cy5-labeled protein S4 showed that Mg2+ ions preferentially stabilize the native S4-rRNA complex. In contrast, ribosomal proteins S20 and S16 act by destabilizing the non-native S4-rRNA complex. The full cooperative switch to the native complex requires S4, S16, and S20 and is achieved to a lesser degree by S4 and S16. The resulting thermodynamic model for assembly of the 30S body illustrates how ribosomal proteins selectively bias the equilibrium between alternative rRNA conformations, increasing the cooperativity of rRNA folding beyond what can be achieved by Mg2+ ions alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1859-1865
Number of pages7
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • FRET
  • RNA protein interactions
  • Ribosomal protein S4
  • Ribosome assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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