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Concept: Ribosome


Gastrointestinal disturbances are among symptoms commonly reported by individuals diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). However, whether ME/CFS is associated with an altered microbiome has remained uncertain. Here, we profiled gut microbial diversity by sequencing 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) genes from stool as well as inflammatory markers from serum for cases (nā€‰=ā€‰48) and controls (nā€‰=ā€‰39). We also examined a set of inflammatory markers in blood: C-reactive protein (CRP), intestinal fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), LPS-binding protein (LBP), and soluble CD14 (sCD14).

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Bacteria, Amino acid, RNA, Ribosomal RNA, Ribosome, C-reactive protein


Determining the relationships among the major groups of cellular life is important for understanding the evolution of biological diversity, but is difficult given the enormous time spans involved. In the textbook ‘three domains’ tree based on informational genes, eukaryotes and Archaea share a common ancestor to the exclusion of Bacteria. However, some phylogenetic analyses of the same data have placed eukaryotes within the Archaea, as the nearest relatives of different archaeal lineages. We compared the support for these competing hypotheses using sophisticated phylogenetic methods and an improved sampling of archaeal biodiversity. We also employed both new and existing tests of phylogenetic congruence to explore the level of uncertainty and conflict in the data. Our analyses suggested that much of the observed incongruence is weakly supported or associated with poorly fitting evolutionary models. All of our phylogenetic analyses, whether on small subunit and large subunit ribosomal RNA or concatenated protein-coding genes, recovered a monophyletic group containing eukaryotes and the TACK archaeal superphylum comprising the Thaumarchaeota, Aigarchaeota, Crenarchaeota and Korarchaeota. Hence, while our results provide no support for the iconic three-domain tree of life, they are consistent with an extended eocyte hypothesis whereby vital components of the eukaryotic nuclear lineage originated from within the archaeal radiation.

Concepts: Gene, Archaea, Bacteria, Evolution, Life, Species, Ribosome, Prokaryote


Purely in vitro ribosome synthesis could provide a critical step towards unraveling the systems biology of ribosome biogenesis, constructing minimal cells from defined components, and engineering ribosomes with new functions. Here, as an initial step towards this goal, we report a method for constructing Escherichia coli ribosomes in crude S150 E. coli extracts. While conventional methods for E. coli ribosome reconstitution are non-physiological, our approach attempts to mimic chemical conditions in the cytoplasm, thus permitting several biological processes to occur simultaneously. Specifically, our integrated synthesis, assembly, and translation (iSAT) technology enables one-step co-activation of rRNA transcription, assembly of transcribed rRNA with native ribosomal proteins into functional ribosomes, and synthesis of active protein by these ribosomes in the same compartment. We show that iSAT makes possible the in vitro construction of modified ribosomes by introducing a 23S rRNA mutation that mediates resistance against clindamycin. We anticipate that iSAT will aid studies of ribosome assembly and open new avenues for making ribosomes with altered properties.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, RNA, Ribosomal RNA, Ribosome, Messenger RNA, Protein biosynthesis, Translation


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.

Concepts: Protein, Bacteria, Amino acid, Ribosome, Messenger RNA, Protein biosynthesis, Chloramphenicol, Peptidyl transferase


The novel multi-million read generating sequencing technologies are very promising for resolving the immense soil 16S rRNA gene bacterial diversity. Yet they have a limited maximum sequence length screening ability, restricting studies in screening DNA stretches of single 16S rRNA gene hypervariable (V) regions. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of properties of four consecutive V regions (V3-6) on commonly applied analytical methodologies in bacterial ecology studies. Using an in silico approach, the performance of each V region was compared with the complete 16S rRNA gene stretch. We assessed related properties of the soil derived bacterial sequence collection of the Ribosomal Database Project (RDP) database and concomitantly performed simulations based on published datasets. Results indicate that overall the most prominent V region for soil bacterial diversity studies was V3, even though it was outperformed in some of the tests. Despite its high performance during most tests, V4 was less conserved along flanking sites, thus reducing its ability for bacterial diversity coverage. V5 performed well in the non-redundant RDP database based analysis. However V5 did not resemble the full-length 16S rRNA gene sequence results as well as V3 and V4 did when the natural sequence frequency and occurrence approximation was considered in the virtual experiment. Although, the highly conserved flanking sequence regions of V6 provide the ability to amplify partial 16S rRNA gene sequences from very diverse owners, it was demonstrated that V6 was the least informative compared to the rest examined V regions. Our results indicate that environment specific database exploration and theoretical assessment of the experimental approach are strongly suggested in 16S rRNA gene based bacterial diversity studies.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Archaea, Bacteria, RNA, Ribosomal RNA, Ribosome, 16S ribosomal RNA


The trans-activator Tat protein is a viral regulatory protein essential for HIV-1 replication. Tat trafficks to the nucleoplasm and the nucleolus. The nucleolus, a highly dynamic and structured membrane-less sub-nuclear compartment, is the site of rRNA and ribosome biogenesis and is involved in numerous cellular functions including transcriptional regulation, cell cycle control and viral infection. Importantly, transient nucleolar trafficking of both Tat and HIV-1 viral transcripts are critical in HIV-1 replication, however, the role(s) of the nucleolus in HIV-1 replication remains unclear. To better understand how the interaction of Tat with the nucleolar machinery contributes to HIV-1 pathogenesis, we investigated the quantitative changes in the composition of the nucleolar proteome of Jurkat T-cells stably expressing HIV-1 Tat fused to a TAP tag. Using an organellar proteomic approach based on mass spectrometry, coupled with Stable Isotope Labelling in Cell culture (SILAC), we quantified 520 proteins, including 49 proteins showing significant changes in abundance in Jurkat T-cell nucleolus upon Tat expression. Numerous proteins exhibiting a fold change were well characterised Tat interactors and/or known to be critical for HIV-1 replication. This suggests that the spatial control and subcellular compartimentaliation of these cellular cofactors by Tat provide an additional layer of control for regulating cellular machinery involved in HIV-1 pathogenesis. Pathway analysis and network reconstruction revealed that Tat expression specifically resulted in the nucleolar enrichment of proteins collectively participating in ribosomal biogenesis, protein homeostasis, metabolic pathways including glycolytic, pentose phosphate, nucleotides and amino acids biosynthetic pathways, stress response, T-cell signaling pathways and genome integrity. We present here the first differential profiling of the nucleolar proteome of T-cells expressing HIV-1 Tat. We discuss how these proteins collectively participate in interconnected networks converging to adapt the nucleolus dynamic activities, which favor host biosynthetic activities and may contribute to create a cellular environment supporting robust HIV-1 production.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Amino acid, Metabolism, RNA, Ribosome


Understanding intra-molecular coevolution helps to elucidate various structural and functional constraints acting on molecules and might have practical applications in predicting molecular structure and interactions. In this study, we used 5S rRNA as a template to investigate how selective constraints have shaped the RNA evolution. We have observed the nonrandom occurrence of paired differences along the phylogenetic trees, the high rate of compensatory evolution, and the high TIR scores (the ratio of the numbers of terminal to intermediate states), all of which indicate that significant positive selection has driven the evolution of 5S rRNA. We found three mechanisms of compensatory evolution: Watson-Crick interaction (the primary one), complex interactions between multiple sites within a stem, and interplay of stems and loops. Coevolutionary interactions between sites were observed to be highly dependent on the structural and functional environment in which they occurred. Coevolution occurred mostly in those sites closest to loops or bulges within structurally or functionally important helices, which may be under weaker selective constraints than other stem positions. Breaking these pairs would directly increase the size of the adjoining loop or bulge, causing a partial or total structural rearrangement. In conclusion, our results indicate that sequence coevolution is a direct result of maintaining optimal structural and functional integrity.

Concepts: DNA, Natural selection, RNA, Ribosomal RNA, Ribosome, 5S ribosomal RNA, Structure, RNA world hypothesis


Deep sequencing now provides detailed snapshots of ribosome occupancy on mRNAs. We leverage these data to parameterize a computational model of translation, keeping track of every ribosome, tRNA, and mRNA molecule in a yeast cell. We determine the parameter regimes in which fast initiation or high codon bias in a transgene increases protein yield and infer the initiation rates of endogenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes, which vary by several orders of magnitude and correlate with 5' mRNA folding energies. Our model recapitulates the previously reported 5'-to-3' ramp of decreasing ribosome densities, although our analysis shows that this ramp is caused by rapid initiation of short genes rather than slow codons at the start of transcripts. We conclude that protein production in healthy yeast cells is typically limited by the availability of free ribosomes, whereas protein production under periods of stress can sometimes be rescued by reducing initiation or elongation rates.

Concepts: Protein, Cell nucleus, RNA, Ribosome, Yeast, Messenger RNA, Protein biosynthesis, Genetic code


Although antipsychotic drugs can reduce psychotic behavior within a few hours, full efficacy is not achieved for several weeks, implying that there may be rapid, short-term changes in neuronal function, which are consolidated into long-lasting changes. We showed that the antipsychotic drug haloperidol, a dopamine receptor type 2 (D2R) antagonist, stimulated the kinase Akt to activate the mRNA translation pathway mediated by the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). In primary striatal D2R-positive neurons, haloperidol-mediated activation of mTORC1 resulted in increased phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (S6) and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein (4E-BP). Proteomic mass spectrometry revealed marked changes in the pattern of protein synthesis after acute exposure of cultured striatal neurons to haloperidol, including increased abundance of cytoskeletal proteins and proteins associated with translation machinery. These proteomic changes coincided with increased morphological complexity of neurons that was diminished by inhibition of downstream effectors of mTORC1, suggesting that mTORC1-dependent translation enhances neuronal complexity in response to haloperidol. In vivo, we observed rapid morphological changes with a concomitant increase in the abundance of cytoskeletal proteins in cortical neurons of haloperidol-injected mice. These results suggest a mechanism for both the acute and long-term actions of antipsychotics.

Concepts: Protein, Ribosome, Protein biosynthesis, Dopamine receptor, Antipsychotic, Schizophrenia, Dopamine, Haloperidol


Ribosome profiling or ribo-seq is a new technique that provides genome-wide information on protein synthesis (GWIPS) in vivo. It is based on the deep sequencing of ribosome protected mRNA fragments allowing the measurement of ribosome density along all RNA molecules present in the cell. At the same time, the high resolution of this technique allows detailed analysis of ribosome density on individual RNAs. Since its invention, the ribosome profiling technique has been utilized in a range of studies in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Several studies have adapted and refined the original ribosome profiling protocol for studying specific aspects of translation. Ribosome profiling of initiating ribosomes has been used to map sites of translation initiation. These studies revealed the surprisingly complex organization of translation initiation sites in eukaryotes. Multiple initiation sites are responsible for the generation of N-terminally extended and truncated isoforms of known proteins as well as for the translation of numerous open reading frames (ORFs), upstream of protein coding ORFs. Ribosome profiling of elongating ribosomes has been used for measuring differential gene expression at the level of translation, the identification of novel protein coding genes and ribosome pausing. It has also provided data for developing quantitative models of translation. Although only a dozen or so ribosome profiling datasets have been published so far, they have already dramatically changed our understanding of translational control and have led to new hypotheses regarding the origin of protein coding genes. WIREs RNA 2013. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1172 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Bacteria, RNA, Ribosome, Messenger RNA