Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 148, Issue 2, pp 165–181 | Cite as

Structures of small subunit ribosomal RNAsin situ fromEscherichia coli andThermomyces lanuginosus

  • Daniel R. Beniac
  • George Harauz


Small ribosomal subunits from the prokaryoteEscherichia coli and the eukaryoteThermomyces lanuginosus were imaged electron spectroscopically, and single particle analysis used to yield three-dimensional reconstructions of the net phosphorus distribution representing the nucleic acid (RNA) backbone. This direct approach showed both ribosomal RNAs to have a three domain structure and other characteristic morphological features. The eukaryotic small ribosomal subunit had a prominent bill present in the head domain, while the prokaryotic subunit had a small vestigial bill. Both ribosomal subunits contaied a thick ‘collar’ central domain which correlates to the site of the evolutionarily conserved ribosomal RNA core, and the location of the majority of ribosomal RNA bases that have been implicated in translation. The reconstruction of the prokaryotic subunit had a prominent protrusion extending from the collar, forming a channel approximately 1.5 nm wide and potentially representing a ‘bridge’ to the large subunit in the intact monosome. The basal domain of the prokaryotic ribosomal subunit was protein free. In this region of the eukaryotic subunit, there were two basal lobes composed of ribosomal RNA, consistent with previous hypotheses that this is a site for the ‘non-conserved core” ribosomal RNA.

Key Words

ribosomal RNA ribosomal subunits electron spectroscopic imaging 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel R. Beniac
    • 1
  • George Harauz
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, College of Biological ScienceUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of Computing and Information ScienceUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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