The unique N-terminal insert in the ribosomal protein, phosphoprotein P0, of Tetrahymena thermophila: Bioinformatic evidence for an interaction with 26S rRNA

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Phosphoprotein P0 (P0) is part of the stalk complex of the eukaryotic large ribosomal subunit necessary for recruiting elongation factors. While the P0 sequence is highly conserved, our group noted a 15-16 residue insert exclusive to the P0s of ciliated protists, including Tetrahymena thermophila. We hypothesized that this insert may have a function unique in ciliated protists, such as stalk regulation via phosphorylation of the insert. Almost no mention of this insert exists in the literature, and although the T. thermophila ribosome has been crystallized, there is limited structural data for Tetrahymena's P0 (TtP0) and its insert. To investigate the structure and function of the TtP0 insert, we performed in silico analyses. The TtP0 sequence was scanned with phosphorylation site prediction tools to detect the likelihood of phosphorylation in the insert. TtP0's sequence was also used to produce a homology model of the N-terminal domain of TtP0, including the insert. When the insert was modeled in the context of the 26S rRNA, it associated with a region identified as expansion segment 7B (ES7B), suggesting a potential functional interaction between ES7B and the insert in T. thermophila. We were not able to obtain sufficient data to determine whether a similar relationship exists in other ciliated protists. This study lays the groundwork for future experimental studies to verify the presence of TtP0 insert/ES7 interactions in Tetrahymena, and to explore their functional significance during protein synthesis.

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Proteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics