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RNA Biol. 2011 Jul-Aug;8(4):586-90. doi: 10.4161/rna.8.4.15585. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

tmRNA on its way through the ribosome: two steps of resume, and what next?

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


Trans-translation is a universal quality-control process eubacteria use to degrade incompletely synthesized proteins and rescue ribosome stalled on defective mRNAs. This process is facilitated by a ribonucleoprotein complex composed of transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA)-a chimera made of a tRNA-like molecule and a short open reading frame (ORF) -and small protein B (SmpB). Determination of the structure of tmRNA and SmpB in complex with the ribosome, at the stage when translation has resumed on tmRNA, has provided an increased understanding of the structure of tmRNA as it transits the ribosome, and unique insights into the complex mechanism of template switching on the ribosome and SmpB-driven selection of the correct reading frame on tmRNA's ORF.

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