The role of RbfA in 16 S rRNA processing and cell growth at low temperature in Escherichia coli

Bing Xia, Haiping Ke, Ujwal Shinde, Masayori Inouye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


RbfA, a 30S ribosome-binding factor, is a multicopy suppressor of a cold-sensitive C23U mutation of the 16S rRNA and is required for efficient processing of the 16S rRNA. At 37°C, ΔrbfA cells show accumulation of ribosomal subunits and 16S rRNA precursor with a significantly reduced polysome profile in comparison with wild-type cells. RbfA is also a cold-shock protein essential for Escherichia coli cells to adapt to low temperature. In this study, we examined its association with the ribosome and its role in 16S rRNA processing and ribosome profiles at low temperature. In wild-type cells, following cold shock at 15°C, the amount of free RbfA remained largely stable, while that of its 30S subunit-associated form became several times greater than that at 37°C and a larger fraction of total 30S subunits was detected to be RbfA-containing. In ΔrbfA cells, the pre-16S rRNA amount increased after cold shock with a concomitant reduction of the mature 16S rRNA amount and the formation of polysomes was further reduced. A closer examination revealed that 30S ribosomal subunits of ΔrbfA cells at low temperature contained primarily pre-16S rRNA and little mature 16S rRNA. Our results indicate that the cold sensitivity of ΔrbfA cells is directly related to their lack of translation initiation-capable 30S subunits containing mature 16S rRNA at low temperature. Importantly, when the C-terminal 25 residue sequence was deleted, the resulting RbfAΔ25 lost the abilities to stably associate with the 30S subunit and to suppress the dominant-negative, cold-sensitive phenotype of the C23U mutation in 16S rRNA but was able to suppress the 16S rRNA processing defect and the cold-sensitive phenotype of the ΔrbfA cells, suggesting that RbfA may interact with the 30S ribosome at more than one site or function in more than one fashion in assisting the 16S rRNA maturation at low temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-584
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 19 2003


  • 16 S rRNA processing
  • Cold shock
  • RbfA
  • Ribosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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