Resistance to viomycin conferred by RNA of either ribosomal subunit

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THE basic peptide antibiotic viomycin inhibits prokaryotic protein biosynthesis1,2, and seems to bind at least to the small ribosomal subunit because it competes partially with the binding of streptomycin3. However, viomycin does not induce misreading like streptomycin1, but promotes association of the ribosomal subunits, stabilises 70S couples4, and blocks trans-location5,6. Interestingly, resistant mutants have been found containing either an altered 30S or an altered 50S subunit7–9. Viomycin strengthens the association of the sensitive subunits but does not affect the association of subunits derived from resistant mutants4. These mutants have been obtained from Mycobacterium smegmatis, which is highly sensitive in culture in contrast to Escherichia coli. We describe here the formation of totally reconstituted subunits using components of sensitive and resistant ribosomes. The reconstituted particles were tested with their complementary, sensitive subunit with respect to viomycin-induced 70S couple formation. The resistance property of either subunit was shown to be located in the RNA moiety.

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YAMADA, T., MIZUGICHI, Y., NIERHAUS, K. et al. Resistance to viomycin conferred by RNA of either ribosomal subunit. Nature 275, 460–461 (1978) doi:10.1038/275460a0

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