Ribosome assembly cofactors are widely conserved across all domains of life. One such group, the ribosome-associated GTPases (RA-GTPase), act as molecular switches to coordinate ribosome assembly. We previously identified the RA-GTPase Era as a target for the stringent response alarmone (p)ppGpp, with binding leading to inhibition of GTPase activity. Era is highly conserved throughout the bacterial kingdom and is essential in many species, although the function of Era in ribosome assembly is unclear. Here we show that Era is not essential in but is important for 30S ribosomal subunit assembly. Protein interaction studies reveal that Era interacts with the 16S rRNA endonuclease YbeY and the DEAD-box RNA helicase CshA. We determine that both Era and CshA are required for growth at suboptimal temperatures and rRNA processing. Era and CshA also form direct interactions with the (p)ppGpp synthetase Rel, with Rel positively impacting the GTPase activity of Era but negatively affecting the helicase activity of CshA. We propose that in its GTP-bound form, Era acts as a hub protein on the ribosome to direct enzymes involved in rRNA processing/degradation and ribosome subunit assembly to their site of action. This activity is impeded by multiple components of the stringent response, contributing to the slowed growth phenotype synonymous with this stress response pathway.

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