Short-term kinetics of rRNA degradation in Escherichia coli upon starvation for carbon, amino acid, or phosphate

Mathias Fessler, Bertil Gummesson, Godefroid Charbon, Sine Lo Svenningsen, Michael A. Sørensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Ribosomes are absolutely essential for growth but are, on the other hand, energetically costly to produce. Therefore, it is important to adjust the cellular ribosome levels according to the environmental conditions in order to obtain the highest possible growth rate while avoiding energy wastage on excess ribosome biosynthesis. Here we show, by three different methods, that the ribosomal RNA content of Escherichia coli is downregulated within minutes of the removal of an essential nutrient from the growth medium, or after transcription initiation is inhibited. The kinetics of the ribosomal RNA reduction vary depending on which nutrient the cells are starved for. The number of ribosomes per OD unit of cells is roughly halved after 80 minutes of starvation for isoleucine or phosphate, whilst the ribosome reduction is less extensive when the cells are starved for glucose. Collectively, the results presented here support the simple model proposed previously, which identifies inactive ribosomal subunits as the substrates for degradation, since the most substantial rRNA degradation is observed under the starvation conditions that most directly affect protein synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Volume113
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)951-963
ISSN0950-382X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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