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Mol Cell. 2000 Jul;6(1):159-71.

Periodic conformational changes in rRNA: monitoring the dynamics of translating ribosomes.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Vienna Biocenter, University of Vienna, Austria.


In protein synthesis, a tRNA transits the ribosome via consecutive binding to the A (acceptor), P (peptidyl), and E (exit) site; these tRNA movements are catalyzed by elongation factor G (EF-G) and GTP. Site-specific Pb2+ cleavage was applied to trace tertiary alterations in tRNA and all rRNAs on pre- and posttranslocational ribosomes. The cleavage pattern of deacylated tRNA and AcPhe-tRNA changed individually upon binding to the ribosome; however, these different conformations were unaffected by translocation. On the other hand, translocation affects 23S rRNA structure. Significantly, the Pb2+ cleavage pattern near the peptidyl transferase center was different before and after translocation. This structural rearrangement emerged periodically during elongation, thus providing evidence for a dynamic and mobile role of 23S rRNA in translocation.

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