Regulation of Ribosome Biosynthesis in Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae: Diversity and Common Principles

Masayasu Nomura
1999 Journal of Bacteriology  
In celebrating the centennial of the American Society for Microbiology, many people will surely recall the central importance that research using microbial systems played in the birth and the subsequent development of molecular biology in the latter half of the 100-year history. Starting from the demonstration of DNA as the genetic material, a series of key experiments, such as the proof of semiconservative replication of DNA, the discovery of mRNA as the information carrier between DNA and
more » ... between DNA and protein, and the eventual elucidation of the genetic code, were done mostly with microbial systems, the enteric bacterium Escherichia coli and its bacteriophages in particular. These basic principles in molecular genetics discovered with bacterial systems soon proved to be true for almost all organisms. Consequently, early research activities in molecular biology were concentrated on E. coli and related bacterial and phage systems, generating the initial attitude of many molecular biologists reflected in the well-publicized phrase, "What is true for E. coli is true for elephants." (The acceptance of such an attitude at that time was not very surprising. Prior to the successful development of molecular biology, research in the field of intermediary metabolism from the 1920s through 1940s had demonstrated abundant evidence for the unity of biochemistry from microorganisms to humans, e.g., the mechanism of energy [ATP] production and its use for anabolic reactions [see also reference 42)]. Starting my first research as a student of fermentation biochemistry in 1950, I was certainly influenced by the prevalent belief, the unity of biochemistry, at that time.) Of course, in view of the bewildering diversity known in biology, especially some fundamental differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes or single-cell versus multicellular organisms, such a view was expected to be too simple and naïve. Thus, it was soon realized that the actual mechanisms and principles underlying certain biological functions, including diverse modes found in regulation of gene expression, are the consequences of evolutionary tinkering and may not necessarily be universal among diverse organisms (for a detailed discussion on evolution and tinkering, see reference 27). Nevertheless, attempts to extend factual observations or concepts obtained in one system (e.g., prokaryotes) to another (e.g., eukaryotes) have been made repeatedly and often turned out to be stimulating if not successful. As a person who was engaged in studies of synthesis of ribosomes and ribosomal components first in E. coli and later in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, I will recount some of the research activities on this subject which I have touched upon in this context.
doi:10.1128/jb.181.22.6857-6864.1999 fatcat:qgne2xyh7ve3jfolayifadq3qi