Maturation of 18S rRNA and biogenesis of the 40S ribosomes in yeast requires a large number of trans-acting factors, including the U3 small nucleolar ribonucleoprotein (U3 snoRNP), and the recently characterized cyclase-like protein Rcl1p. U3 snoRNP is a key particle orchestrating early 35S rRNA cleavage events. A unique property of Rcl1p is that it specifically associates with U3 snoRNP, but this association appears to occur only at the level of nascent ribosomes and not with the U3 monoparticle. Here we report the characterization of Bms1p, a protein that associates with Rcl1p in multiple structures, including a specific complex sedimenting at around 10S. Like Rcl1p, Bms1p is an essential, evolutionarily conserved, nucleolar protein, and its depletion interferes with processing of the 35S pre-rRNA at sites A0, A1, and A2, and the formation of 40S subunits. The N-terminal domain of Bms1p has structural features found in regulatory GTPases and we demonstrate that mutations of amino acids implicated in GTP/GDP binding affect Bms1p activity in vivo. The results indicate that Bms1p may act as a molecular switch during maturation of the 40S ribosomal subunit in the nucleolus.
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