Molecule of the Month
May 2018
Oxidation in the Catalytic Heart of the Ribosome:
Differential Effects on Protein

Oxidative damage of biomolecules represents a serious threat to cell functions. Oxidation of non-coding RNAs with longer half-lives, such as tRNAs and rRNAs, represent a hazard for cell metabolism. Accumulating evidence links oxidized RNA to a variety of diseases, particularly age-related degeneration.
Here we demonstrate that oxidative lesions occur in the inside of the ribosome. By means of atomic mutagenesis we show that oxidation affects the catalytic competence of the active site differentially and site-specifically.

This work was carried out by Jessica Willi & colleagues in the group of Prof. Norbert Polacek and is the result of a collaboration between the Leumann & Polacek groups.


  • J. Willi, P. Küpfer, D. Evéquoz, G. Fernandez, A. Katz, C. Leumann, N. Polacek;
    "Oxidative stress damages rRNA inside the ribosome and differentially affects the catalytic center"
    Nucleic Acids Research, 2018, 46(4), 1945-1957; doi:10.1093/nar/gkx1308.