Solving the Riddle of the Evolution of Shine-Dalgarno Based Translation in Chloroplasts

Iddo Weiner, Noam Shahar, Pini Marco, Iftach Yacoby, Tamir Tuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chloroplasts originated from an ancient cyanobacterium and still harbor a bacterial-like genome. However, the centrality of Shine-Dalgarno ribosome binding, which predominantly regulates proteobacterial translation initiation, is significantly decreased in chloroplasts. As plastid ribosomal RNA anti-Shine-Dalgarno elements are similar to their bacterial counterparts, these sites alone cannot explain this decline. By computational simulation we show that upstream point mutations modulate the local structure of ribosomal RNA in chloroplasts, creating significantly tighter structures around the anti-Shine-Dalgarno locus, which in-turn reduce the probability of ribosome binding. To validate our model, we expressed two reporter genes (mCherry, hydrogenase) harboring a Shine-Dalgarno motif in the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii chloroplast. Coexpressing them with a 16S ribosomal RNA, modified according to our model, significantly enhances mCherry and hydrogenase expression compared with coexpression with an endogenous 16S gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2854-2860
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
  • Shine-Dalgarno
  • chloroplast evolution
  • mRNA translation


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