Mutational analysis of the ribosome assembly GTPase RbgA provides insight into ribosome interaction and ribosome-stimulated GTPase activation

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RibosomebiogenesisGTPaseAprotein (RbgA) is an essential GTPase required for the biogenesis of the 50S subunit inBacillus subtilis.Homologs of RbgA are widely distributed in bacteria and eukaryotes and are implicated in ribosome assembly in the mitochondria, chloroplast and cytoplasm. Cells depleted of RbgA accumulate an immature large subunit that is missing key ribosomal proteins. RbgA, unlike many members of the Ras superfamily of GTPases, lacks a defined catalytic residue for carrying out guanosine triphosphate (GTP) hydrolysis. To probe RbgA function in ribosome assembly, we used a combined bioinformatics, genetic and biochemical approach. We identified a RNA-binding domain within the C-terminus of RbgA that is structurally similar to AmiR–NasR Transcription Anti-termination Regulator (ANTAR) domains, which are known to bind structured RNA. Mutation of key residues in the ANTAR domain altered RbgA association with the ribosome. We identified a putative catalytic residue within a highly conserved region of RbgA, His9, which is contained within a similar PGH motif found in elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu) that is required for GTP hydrolysis on interaction with the ribosome. Finally, our results support a model in which the GTPase activity of RbgA directly participates in the maturation of the large subunit rather than solely promoting dissociation of RbgA from the 50S subunit.

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