Characterization of a 30S Ribosomal Subunit Assembly Intermediate Found in Escherichia Coli Cells Growing With Neomycin or Paromomycin

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Neomycin and paromomycin are aminoglycoside antibiotics that specifically stimulate the misreading of mRNA by binding to the decoding site of 16S rRNA in the 30S ribosomal subunit. Recent work has shown that both antibiotics also inhibit 30S subunit assembly in Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus cells. This work describes the characteristics of an assembly intermediate produced in E. coli cells grown with neomycin or paromomycin. Antibiotic treatment stimulated the accumulation of a 30S assembly precursor with a sedimentation coefficient of 21S. The particle was able to bind radio-labeled antibiotics in vivo and in vitro. Hybridization experiments showed that the 21S precursor particle contained unprocessed 16S rRNA with both 5′ and 3′ extensions. Ten 30S ribosomal proteins were found in the precursor after inhibition by each drug. In addition, cell free reconstitution assays generated a 21S particle after incubation with either aminoglycoside. This work helps to define the features of the ribosome structure as a target for antimicrobial agents and may provide information needed for the design of more effective antibiotics.