Conserved bacterial RNase YbeY plays key roles in 70S ribosome quality control and 16S rRNA maturation

Mol Cell. 2013 Feb 7;49(3):427-38. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.11.025. Epub 2012 Dec 27.


Quality control of ribosomes is critical for cellular function since protein mistranslation leads to severe physiological consequences. We report evidence of a previously unrecognized ribosome quality control system in bacteria that operates at the level of 70S to remove defective ribosomes. YbeY, a previously unidentified endoribonuclease, and the exonuclease RNase R act together by a process mediated specifically by the 30S ribosomal subunit, to degrade defective 70S ribosomes but not properly matured 70S ribosomes or individual subunits. Furthermore, there is essentially no fully matured 16S rRNA in a ΔybeY mutant at 45°C, making YbeY the only endoribonuclease to be implicated in the critically important processing of the 16S rRNA 3' terminus. These key roles in ribosome quality control and maturation indicate why YbeY is a member of the minimal bacterial gene set and suggest that it could be a potential target for antibacterial drugs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Conserved Sequence*
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Exoribonucleases / metabolism
  • Histidine / metabolism
  • Hot Temperature
  • Metalloproteins / chemistry
  • Metalloproteins / metabolism*
  • Metals / pharmacology
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Protein Biosynthesis / drug effects
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional* / drug effects
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / metabolism*
  • Ribosome Subunits, Small, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / drug effects
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects
  • Substrate Specificity / drug effects


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Metalloproteins
  • Metals
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • YbeY protein, E coli
  • Histidine
  • Arginine
  • Exoribonucleases
  • ribonuclease R