A new model for the three-dimensional folding of Escherichia coli 16 S ribosomal RNA. II. The RNA-protein interaction data

J Mol Biol. 1997 Aug 29;271(4):545-65. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1997.1211.


The map of the mass centres of the 21 proteins from the Escherichia coli 30 S ribosomal subunit, as determined by neutron scattering, was fitted to a cryoelectron microscopic (cryo-EM) model at a resolution of 20 A of 70 S ribosomes in the pre-translocational state, carrying tRNA molecules at the A and P sites. The fit to the 30 S moiety of the 70 S particles was accomplished with the help of the well-known distribution of the ribosomal proteins in the head, body and side lobe regions of the 30 S subunit, as determined by immuno electron microscopy (IEM). Most of the protein mass centres were found to lie close to the surface (or even outside) of the cryo-EM contour of the 30 S subunit, supporting the idea that the ribosomal proteins are arranged peripherally around the rRNA. The ribosomal protein distribution was then compared with the corresponding model for the 16 S rRNA, fitted to the same EM contour (described in an accompanying paper), in order to analyse the mutual compatibility of the arrangement of proteins and rRNA in terms of the available RNA-protein interaction data. The information taken into account included the hydroxyl radical and base foot-printing data from Noller's laboratory, and our own in situ cross-linking results. Proteins S1 and S14 were not considered, due to the lack of RNA-protein data. Among the 19 proteins analysed, 12 (namely S2, S4, S5, S7, S8, S9, S10, S11, S12, S15, S17 and S21) showed a fit to the rRNA model that varied from being excellent to at least acceptable. Of the remaining 7, S3 and S13 showed a rather poor fit, as did S18 (which is considered in combination with S6 in the foot-printing experiments). S16 was difficult to evaluate, as the foot-print data for this protein cover a large area of the rRNA. S19 and S20 showed a bad fit in terms of the neutron map, but their foot-print and cross-link sites were clustered into compact groups in the rRNA model in those regions of the 30 S subunit where these proteins have respectively been located by IEM studies.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Escherichia coli
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / ultrastructure*
  • Ribonucleoproteins / chemistry*
  • Ribosomal Proteins*
  • Ribosomes / ultrastructure*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Ribonucleoproteins
  • Ribosomal Proteins