Complete list of canonical post-transcriptional modifications in the Bacillus subtilis ribosome and their link to RbgA driven large subunit assembly

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Ribosomal RNA modifications in prokaryotes have been sporadically studied, but there is a lack of a comprehensive picture of modification sites across bacterial phylogeny. B. subtilis is a preeminent model organism for gram-positive bacteria, with a well-annotated and editable genome, convenient for fundamental studies and industrial use. Yet remarkably, there has been no complete characterization of its rRNA modification inventory. By expanding modern MS tools for the discovery of RNA modifications, we found a total of 25 modification sites in 16S and 23S rRNA of B. subtilis, including the chemical identity of the modified nucleosides and their precise sequence location. Furthermore, by perturbing large subunit biogenesis using depletion of an essential factor RbgA and measuring the completion of 23S modifications in the accumulated intermediate, we provide a first look at the order of modification steps during the late stages of assembly in B. subtilis . While our work expands the knowledge of bacterial rRNA modification patterns, adding B. subtilis to the list of fully annotated species after E. coli and T. thermophilus, in a broader context, it provides the experimental framework for discovery and functional profiling of rRNA modifications to ultimately elucidate their role in ribosome biogenesis and translation.

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