Recent results with Neurospora crassa show that one protein (S-5, mol wt 52,000) associated with the mitochondrial (mit) small ribosomal subunit is translated within the mitochondria (Lambowitz et al. 1976. J. Mol. Biol. 107:223-253). In the present work, Neurospora mit ribosomal proteins were analyzed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis using a modification of the gel system of Mets and Bogorad. The results show that S-5 is present in near stoichiometric concentrations in high salt (0.5 MKCl)-washed mit small subunits from wild-type strains. S-5 is among the most basic mit ribosomal proteins (pI greater than 10) and has a high affinity for RNA under the conditions of the urea-containing gel buffers. The role of S-5 in mit ribosome assembly was investigated by an indirect method, making use of chloramphenicol to specifically inhibit mit protein synthesis. Chloramphenicol was found to rapidly inhibit the assembly of mit small subunits leading to the formation of CAP-30S particles which sediment slightly behind mature small subunits (LaPolla and Lambowitz. 1977. J. Mol. 116: 189-205). Two-dimensional gel analysis shows that the more slowly sedimentaing CAP-30S particles are deficient in S-5 and in several other proteins, whereas these proteins are present in normal concentrations in mature small subunits from the same cells. Because S-5 is the only mit ribosomal protein whose synthesis is directly inhibited by chloramphenicol, the results tentatively suggest that S-5 plays a role in the assembly of mit small subunits. In addition, the results are consistent with the idea that S-5 stabilizes the binding of several other mit small subunit proteins. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis was used to examine mit ribosomal proteins from [poky] and six additional extra-nuclear mutants with defects in the assembly of mit small subunits. The electrophoretic mobility of S-5 is not detectably altered in any of the mutants. However, [poky] mit small subunits are deficient in S-5 and also contain several other proteins in abnormally low or high concentrations. These and other results are consistent with a defect in a mit ribosomal constituent in [poky].

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