Cryo-EM study of the spinach chloroplast ribosome reveals the structural and functional roles of plastid-specific ribosomal proteins

PNAS, 2007, vol. 104, no. 49, 19315–20 published on 04.12.2007, online article

Protein synthesis in the chloroplast is carried out by chloroplast ribosomes (chloro-ribosome) and regulated in a light-dependent manner. Chloroplast or plastid ribosomal proteins (PRPs) generally are larger than their bacterial counterparts, and chloro-ribosomes contain additional plastid-specific ribosomal proteins (PSRPs); however, it is unclear to what extent these proteins play structural or regulatory roles during translation. We have obtained a threedimensional cryo-EM map of the spinach 70S chloro-ribosome, revealing the overall structural organization to be similar to bacterial ribosomes. Fitting of the conserved portions of the x-ray crystallographic structure of the bacterial 70S ribosome into our cryo-EM map of the chloro-ribosome reveals the positions of PRP extensions and the locations of the PSRPs. Surprisingly, PSRP1 binds in the decoding region of the small (30S) ribosomal subunit, in a manner that would preclude the binding of messenger and transfer RNAs to the ribosome, suggesting that PSRP1 is a translation factor rather than a ribosomal protein. PSRP2 and PSRP3 appear to structurally compensate for missing segments of the 16S rRNA within the 30S subunit, whereas PSRP4 occupies a position buried within the head of the 30S subunit. One of the two PSRPs in the large (50S) ribosomal subunit lies near the tRNA exit site. Furthermore, we find a mass of density corresponding to chlororibosome recycling factor; domain II of this factor appears to interact with the flexible C-terminal domain of PSRP1. Our study provides evolutionary insights into the structural and functional roles that the PSRPs play during protein synthesis in chloroplasts.

TU München
Helmholtz München
MPI of Neurobiology
MPI of Biochemistry