We have examined the effects of assembly of ribosomal proteins S5, S6, S11, S12, S18 and S21 on the reactivities of residues in 16 S rRNA towards chemical probes. The results show that S6, S18 and S11 interact with the 690-720 and 790 loop regions of 16 S rRNA in a highly co-operative manner, that is consistent with the previously defined assembly map relationships among these proteins. The results also indicate that these proteins, one of which (S18) has previously been implicated as a component of the ribosomal P-site, interact with residues near some of the recently defined P-site (class II tRNA protection) nucleotides in 16 S rRNA. In addition, assembly of protein S12 has been found to result in the protection of residues in both the 530 stem/loop and the 900 stem regions; the latter group is closely juxtaposed to a segment of 16 S rRNA recently shown to be protected from chemical probes by streptomycin. Interestingly, both S5 and S12 appear to protect, to differing degrees, a well-defined set of residues in the 900 stem/loop and 5′-terminal regions. These observations are discussed in terms of the effects of S5 and S12 on streptomycin binding, and in terms of the class III tRNA protection found in the 900 stem of 16 S rRNA. Altogether these results show that many of the small subunit proteins, which have previously been shown to be functionally important, appear to be associated with functionally implicated segments of 16 S rRNA.
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