Ancestral Insertions and Expansions of rRNA do not Support an Origin of the Ribosome in Its Peptidyl Transferase Center

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Abstract

Phylogenetic reconstruction of ribosomal history suggests that the ribonucleoprotein complex originated in structures supporting RNA decoding and ribosomal mechanics. A recent study of accretion of ancestral expansion segments of rRNA, however, contends that the large subunit of the ribosome originated in its peptidyl transferase center (PTC). Here I re-analyze the rRNA insertion data that supports this claim. Analysis of a crucial three-way junction connecting the long-helical coaxial branch that supports the PTC to the L1 stalk and its translocation functions reveals an incorrect branch-to-trunk insertion assignment that is in conflict with the PTC-centered accretion model. Instead, the insertion supports the ancestral origin of translocation. Similarly, an insertion linking a terminal coaxial trunk that holds the L7–12 stalk and its GTPase center to a seven-way junction of the molecule again questions the early origin of the PTC. Unwarranted assumptions, dismissals of conflicting data, structural insertion ambiguities, and lack of phylogenetic information compromise the construction of an unequivocal insertion-based model of macromolecular accretion. Results prompt integration of phylogenetic and structure-based models to address RNA junction growth and evolutionary constraints acting on ribosomal structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-165
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Volume80
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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