Hygromycin B Inhibition of Protein Synthesis and Ribosome Biogenesis in Escherichia Coli

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The aminoglycoside antibiotic hygromycin B was examined in Escherichia coli cells for inhibitory effects on translation and ribosomal-subunit formation. Pulse-chase labeling experiments were performed, which verified lower rates of ribosomal-subunit synthesis in drug-treated cells. Hygromycin B exhibited a concentration-dependent inhibitory effect on viable-cell numbers, growth rate, protein synthesis, and 30S and 50S subunit formation. Unlike other aminoglycosides, hygromycin B was a more effective inhibitor of translation than of ribosomal-subunit formation in E. coli. Examination of total RNA from treated cells showed an increase in RNA corresponding to a precursor to the 16S rRNA, while mature 16S rRNA decreased. Northern hybridization to rRNA in cells treated with hygromycin B showed that RNase II- and RNase III-deficient strains of E. coli accumulated 16S rRNA fragments upon treatment with the drug. The results indicate that hygromycin B targets protein synthesis and 30S ribosomal-subunit assembly.