A common motif organizes the structure of multi-helix loops in 16 S and 23 S ribosomal RNAs

J Mol Biol. 1998 Oct 30;283(3):571-83. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1998.2106.


Phylogenetic and chemical probing data indicate that a modular RNA motif, common to loop E of eucaryotic 5 S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and the alpha-sarcin/ricin loop of 23 S rRNA, organizes the structure of multi-helix loops in 16 S and 23 S ribosomal RNAs. The motif occurs in the 3' domain of 16 S rRNA at positions 1345-1350/1372-1376 (Escherichia coli numbering), within the three-way junction loop, which binds ribosomal protein S7, and which contains nucleotides that help to form the binding site for P-site tRNA in the ribosome. The motif also helps to structure a three-way junction within domain I of 23 S, which contains many universally conserved bases and which lies close in the primary and secondary structure to the binding site of r-protein L24. Several other highly conserved hairpin, internal, and multi-helix loops in 16 S and 23 S rRNA contain the motif, including the core junction loop of 23 S and helix 27 in the core of 16 S rRNA. Sequence conservation and range of variation in bacteria, archaea, and eucaryotes as well as chemical probing and cross-linking data, provide support for the recurrent and autonomous existence of the motif in ribosomal RNAs. Besides its presence in the hairpin ribozyme, the loop E motif is also apparent in helix P10 of bacterial RNase P, in domain P7 of one sub-group of group I introns, and in domain 3 of one subgroup of group II introns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Genes, rRNA / physiology
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • RNA, Bacterial / classification
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / chemistry*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / classification
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S / chemistry*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S / classification
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S / metabolism


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S