Structure and function of the conserved 690 hairpin in Escherichia coli 16 S ribosomal RNA: analysis of the stem nucleotides.J Mol Biol. 2000 Jun 30; 300(1):113-26.JM
Nucleotides 680 to 710 of Escherichia coli 16 S rRNA form a distinct structural domain required for ribosome function. The goal of this study was to determine the functional significance of pairing interactions in the 690 region. Two different secondary structures were proposed for this hairpin, based on phylogenetic and chemical modification studies. To study the effect of pairing interactions in the 690 hairpin on ribosome function and to determine which of the proposed secondary structures is biologically significant, we performed an instant-evolution experiment in which the nine nucleotides that form the proposed base-pairs and dangling ends of the 690 stem were randomly mutated, and functional mutant combinations were selected. A total of 96 unique functional mutants were isolated, assayed in vivo, and sequenced. Analysis of these data revealed extensive base-pairing and stacking interactions among the mutated nucleotides. Formation of either a Watson-Crick base-pair or G.U pair between positions 688 and 699 is absolutely required for ribosome function. We also performed NMR studies of a 31-nucleotide RNA which indicate the formation of a functionally important base-pair between nucleotides 688 and 699. Formation of a second base-pair between positions 689 and 698, however, is not essential for ribosome function, but the level of ribosome function correlates with the predicted thermodynamic stability of the nucleotide pairs in these positions. The universally conserved positions G690 and U697 are generally portrayed as forming a G.U mismatch. Our data show co-variation between these positions, but do not support the hypothesis that the G690:U697 pair forms a wobble structure. NMR studies of model 14-nt and 31-nt RNAs support these findings and show that G690 and U697 are involved in unusual stacking interactions but do not form a wobble pair. Preliminary NMR structural analysis reveals that the loop portion of the 690 hairpin folds into a highly structured and novel conformation.