The precise functions of most of the ∼200 assembly factors and 79 ribosomal proteins required to construct yeast ribosomes in vivo remain largely unexplored. To better understand the roles of these proteins and the mechanisms driving ribosome biogenesis, we examined in detail one step in 60S ribosomal subunit assembly-processing of 27SA(3) pre-rRNA. Six of seven assembly factors required for this step (A(3) factors) are mutually interdependent for association with preribosomes. These A(3) factors are required to recruit Rrp17, one of three exonucleases required for this processing step. In the absence of A(3) factors, four ribosomal proteins adjacent to each other, rpL17, rpL26, rpL35, and rpL37, fail to assemble, and preribosomes are turned over by Rat1. We conclude that formation of a neighbourhood in preribosomes containing the A(3) factors establishes and maintains stability of functional preribosomes containing 27S pre-rRNAs. In the absence of these assembly factors, at least one exonuclease can switch from processing to turnover of pre-rRNA.
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