Initiation of ribosome degradation during starvation in Escherichia coli

Michael A. Zundel, Georgeta N. Basturea, Murray P. Deutscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Ribosomes are known to be degraded under conditions of nutrient limitation. However, the mechanism by which a normally stable ribosome becomes a substrate for the degradation machinery has remained elusive. Here, we present in vitro and in vivo data demonstrating that free ribosome subunits are the actual targets of the degradative enzymes, whereas 70S particles are protected from such degradation. Conditions that increase the formation of subunits both in vitro and in vivo lead0 to enhanced degradation, while conditions favoring the presence of intact 70S ribosomes prevent or reduce breakdown. Thus, the simple formation of free 50S and 30S subunits is sufficient to serve as the initiation mechanism that allows endoribonuclease cleavage and subsequent ribosome breakdown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-983
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Endoribonuclease
  • R
  • Ribosome subunits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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