We have recently shown that the mammalian nucleolar protein Bop1 is involved in synthesis of the 28S and 5.8S ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) and large ribosome subunits in mouse cells. Here we have investigated the functions of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae homolog of Bop1, Erb1p, encoded by the previously uncharacterized open reading frame YMR049C. Gene disruption showed that ERB1 is essential for viability. Depletion of Erb1p resulted in a loss of 25S and 5.8S rRNAs synthesis, while causing only a moderate reduction and not a complete block in 18S rRNA formation. Processing analysis showed that Erb1p is required for synthesis of 7S pre-rRNA and mature 25S rRNA from 27SB pre-rRNA. In Erb1p-depleted cells these products of 27SB processing are largely absent and 27SB pre-rRNA is under-accumulated, apparently due to degradation. In addition, depletion of Erb1p caused delayed processing of the 35S pre-rRNA. These findings demonstrate that Erb1p, like its mammalian counterpart Bop1, is required for formation of rRNA components of the large ribosome particles. The similarities in processing defects caused by functional disruption of Erb1p and Bop1 suggest that late steps in maturation of the large ribosome subunit rRNAs employ mechanisms that are evolutionarily conserved throughout eukaryotes.
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