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Cell. 2000 Sep 1;102(5):615-23.

Structure of functionally activated small ribosomal subunit at 3.3 angstroms resolution.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Research Unit for Ribosomal Structure, Hamburg, Germany.


The small ribosomal subunit performs the decoding of genetic information during translation. The structure of that from Thermus thermophilus shows that the decoding center, which positions mRNA and three tRNAs, is constructed entirely of RNA. The entrance to the mRNA channel will encircle the message when a latch-like contact closes and contributes to processivity and fidelity. Extended RNA helical elements that run longitudinally through the body transmit structural changes, correlating events at the particle's far end with the cycle of mRNA translocation at the decoding region. 96% of the nucleotides were traced and the main fold of all proteins was determined. The latter are either peripheral or appear to serve as linkers. Some may assist the directionality of translocation.

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