Prokaryotic ribosomes are made up of two subunits 50S and 30S subunits which consist of protein and ribosomal RNA (rRNA). In general, prokaryotes which lack a nucleus contain fewer sets of rRNA genes and ribosomes per cell.
16S rRNA along with 21 proteins is interacting together to produces the 30S smaller subunit whereas 5S and 23S rRNA and 31 proteins form the 50S larger subunit of the prokaryotic ribosome.
16S rRNA, 5S and 23S rRNA are 1540 nucleotides, 120 nucleotides and 2900 nucleotides long respectively.
During protein synthesis, 30S smaller and 50S larger subunits will combine to form a complete 70S ribosome with a diameter of about 25nm.
Ribosomal RNA makes up more than 60% of the weight of the ribosome and is essential for attaching to messenger RNA (mRNA) and attracting transfer RNA (tRNA) to catalyze the construction of a peptide bond among two amino acids.
rRNAs can attain a large secondary structural conformations to perform a vital role in identifying the consensus sequences of mRNAs and tRNAs.
Role of rRNA in a prokaryotic cell:
The prime role of rRNA is to bind with mRNA and tRNA to warrant that the mRNA codon sequence is correctly translated into protein amino acid sequences.
The structure of rRNA possesses unique conformations with internal loops, helices and hairpin bends.
Thus, rRNA molecule located in the subunits of ribosome can establish unique locations called A, P and E sites within the ribosome.
The emergent polypeptide chain is joined at P site whereas an upcoming tRNA charged with an amino acid is anchored by the A site.
Until leaving the ribosome, the tRNA binds slightly to the E site after peptide bond formation.
In fact, rRNA does have sites for binding to certain ribosomal proteins.
In addition, Pre-rRNA is associated with the formation of microRNA.
Micro-RNA involved in inflammation and heart disease with response to cellular stress provides a new dimension for the role of rRNA.
The involvement of rRNA is required throughout the process of protein translation.
Shine-Dalgarno is a conserved 6-10 nucleotide sequence located upstream to the start codon of mRNA.
Thus, pairing of 16S rRNA with the Shine-Dalgarno sequence in mRNA initiates the process of prokaryotic translation and place the start codon inside the ribosome.
rRNA along with other proteins activate the 50S subunit and consequently the first codon is translated.
tRNAs that are charged with amino acids can reach to the A site of ribosomes.
The conformation of 16S rRNA can shift the pairing of codon in mRNA with complementary anticodon in tRNA.
The communication between tRNA, mRNA, and rRNA could create stable machinery for the protein synthesis.
Progression of peptide bond formation between each amino acid at A site and the addition of amino acid to budding polypeptide at P site is catalyzed by ribosomal RNA in the larger subunit.
Finally, the formation of polypeptide chain is interrupted by the ribosome after sensing the stop codon.
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