Point mutations were produced near the 3′ end of E. coli 16S rRNA by bisulfite mutagenesis in a 121 base loop-out (1385 to 1505) in a heteroduplex of wild type (pKK3535) and deletion mutant plasmids. Two highly conserved, single stranded regions flank an irregular helix (1409-1491) in the area studied. Only a single mutation was isolated in the flanking regions, a transition at C1402, (normally methylated on the base and ribose in rRNA). Mutations occurred throughout the irregular helix. All mutant rRNAs were processed and assembled into 30S subunits capable of interacting with 50S subunits. Growth rates ranged from faster to significantly slower than cells with the wild type transoript. In particular, mutations at C1467 or C1469 cause slow growth. These two transitions (in a bulge region within the helix) reduced the bulge by additional base pairing.
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