Expanding the nucleotide repertoire of the ribosome with post-transcriptional modifications

ACS Chem Biol. 2007 Sep 21;2(9):610-9. doi: 10.1021/cb7001494.


In all kingdoms of life, RNAs undergo specific post-transcriptional modifications. More than 100 different analogues of the four standard RNA nucleosides have been identified. Modifications in ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) are highly prevalent and cluster in regions of the ribosome that have functional importance, have a high level of nucleotide conservation, and typically lack proteins. Modifications also play roles in determining antibiotic resistance or sensitivity. A wide spectrum of chemical diversity from the modifications provides the ribosome with a broader range of possible interactions between rRNA regions, transfer RNA, messenger RNA, proteins, or ligands by influencing local rRNA folds and fine-tuning the translation process. The collective importance of the modified nucleosides in ribosome function has been demonstrated for a number of organisms, and further studies may reveal how the individual players regulate these functions through synergistic or cooperative effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Methylation
  • Nucleosides / chemistry
  • Nucleosides / metabolism
  • Nucleotides / metabolism
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / chemistry*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / metabolism*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Nuclear / metabolism*
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Nucleosides
  • Nucleotides
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S
  • RNA, Small Nuclear
  • RNA, Transfer