Ribosomal RNA


All proteins are synthesized by ribosomes, large ribonucleic acid (RNA)–protein complexes that are the targets of several clinically relevant antibiotics. Ribosomes contain highly conserved ribosomal RNA (rRNA) species, which catalyse the key steps in protein synthesis, together with 70–80 proteins that play important roles in the correct folding and packaging of the rRNAs.

Keywords: ribosome; rRNA; translation; pre‐rRNA; RNA processing; snoRNAs

Figure 1.

rDNA organization in different species.

Figure 2.

Pre‐rRNAs in E. coli (a) and S. cerevisiae (b). Sites in the E.coli pre‐rRNA that are cleaved by RNase III and RNase P are indicated. Sites in the S. Cerevisiae pre‐rRNA that are cleaved by Rnt1p and RNase MRP are also indicated. RNase MRP is homologous to RNase P and Rnt1p is homologous to RNase III. In E. coli, processing at the ends of the mature 18S and 23S rRNAs is coupled, since base pairing is required to generate the RNase III cleavage sites. In S. cerevisiae, it has been proposed that interactions in trans with the snoRNAs U3 and U8 provides a similar coupling, although this has not yet been established.

Figure 3.

The small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNA) and their associated proteins. The two major families of snoRNA are each associated with a specific set of proteins. For the box C+D snoRNAs, these are Nop1p/fibrillarin, Nop58p, Nop56p and Snu13p. The H+ACA snoRNAs are associated with Cbf5p/dyskerin, Gar1p, Nhp2p and Nop10p. Nop1p and Cbf5p are the putative catalytic subunits.

Figure 4.

The tree of life. Universal phylogeny derived from comparisons of rRNA sequences.


Further Reading

Fromont‐Racine M, Senger B, Saveanu C and Fasiolo F (2003) Ribosome assembly in eukaryotes. Gene 313: 17–42.

Garrett RA, Douthwaite SR, Liljas A et al. (eds) (2000) The Ribosome: Structure, Function, Antibiotics and Cellular Interactions. Washington DC: ASM Press.

Green R and Noller HF (1997) Ribosomes and translation. Annual Review of Biochemistry 66: 679–716.

Kiss T (2002) Small nucleolar RNAs: an abundant group of noncoding RNAs with diverse cellular functions. Cell 109: 145–148.

Noller F (1999) On the origins of the ribosome: Coevolution of the subdomains of tRNA and rRNA. In: Gesteland RF, Cech TR and Atkins JF (eds). The RNA World, 2nd edn,, pp. 197–219. New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Noller HF, Hoang L and Fredrick K (2005) The 30S ribosomal P site: a function of 16S rRNA. FEBS Letters: 579: 855–858.

Ogle JM, Carter AP and Ramakrishnan V (2003) Insights into the decoding mechanism from recent ribosome structures. Trends in Biochemical Sciences: 28: 259–266.

Venema J and Tollervey D (1999) Ribosome synthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Annual Review of Genetics 33: 261–311.

Yusupova GZ, Yusupov MM, Cate JH and Noller HF (2001) The path of messenger RNA through the ribosome. Cell 106: 233–241.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Lafontaine, Denis LJ, and Tollervey, David(Apr 2006) Ribosomal RNA. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003832]