RIBOSOME IN THE BALANCE: STRUCTURAL EQUILIBRIUM ENSURES TRANSLATIONAL FIDELITY AND PROPER GENE EXPRESSION
Dinman, Jonathan D
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At equilibrium, empty ribosomes freely transit between the rotated and un-rotated states. In translation elongation, the binding of two translation elongation factors to the same general region of the ribosome stabilizes them in one of the two extremes of intersubunit rotation; rotated or unrotated. These stabilized states are resolved by expenditure energy in the form of GTP hydrolysis. Here, mutants of the early assembling integral ribosomal protein uL2 (universal L2) are used to test the generality of this hypothesis. A prior study employing mutants of a late assembling peripheral ribosomal protein suggested that ribosome rotational status determines its affinity for elongation factors, and hence translational fidelity and gene expression. rRNA structure probing analyses reveal that mutations in the uL2 B7b bridge region shift the equilibrium towards the rotated state, propagating rRNA structural changes to all of the functional centers of ribosome. Shift in structural equilibrium affects the biochemical properties of ribosomes: rotated ribosomes favor binding of the eEF2 translocase and disfavor that of the elongation ternary complex. This manifests as specific translational fidelity defects, impacting the expression of genes involved in telomere maintenance. A model is presented here describing how cyclic intersubunit rotation ensures the unidirectionality of translational elongation, and how perturbation of rotational equilibrium affects specific aspects of translational fidelity and cellular gene expression.