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Context-specific inhibition of translation by ribosomal antibiotics targeting the peptidyl transferase center

OPEN Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 30 Oct 2016

J Marks, K Kannan, EJ Roncase, D Klepacki, A Kefi, C Orelle, N Vázquez-Laslop and AS Mankin
Abstract
The first broad-spectrum antibiotic chloramphenicol and one of the newest clinically important antibacterials, linezolid, inhibit protein synthesis by targeting the peptidyl transferase center of the bacterial ribosome. Because antibiotic binding should prevent the placement of aminoacyl-tRNA in the catalytic site, it is commonly assumed that these drugs are universal inhibitors of peptidyl transfer and should readily block the formation of every peptide bond. However, our in vitro experiments showed that chloramphenicol and linezolid stall ribosomes at specific mRNA locations. Treatment of bacterial cells with high concentrations of these antibiotics leads to preferential arrest of translation at defined sites, resulting in redistribution of the ribosomes on mRNA. Antibiotic-mediated inhibition of protein synthesis is most efficient when the nascent peptide in the ribosome carries an alanine residue and, to a lesser extent, serine or threonine in its penultimate position. In contrast, the inhibitory action of the drugs is counteracted by glycine when it is either at the nascent-chain C terminus or at the incoming aminoacyl-tRNA. The context-specific action of chloramphenicol illuminates the operation of the mechanism of inducible resistance that relies on programmed drug-induced translation arrest. In addition, our findings expose the functional interplay between the nascent chain and the peptidyl transferase center.
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Concepts
Chloramphenicol, Messenger RNA, Peptidyl transferase, Protein biosynthesis, Bacteria, Amino acid, Protein, Ribosome
MeSH headings
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