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Cell. 2006 Nov 17;127(4):721-33.

The highly conserved LepA is a ribosomal elongation factor that back-translocates the ribosome.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Genetik, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


The ribosomal elongation cycle describes a series of reactions prolonging the nascent polypeptide chain by one amino acid and driven by two universal elongation factors termed EF-Tu and EF-G in bacteria. Here we demonstrate that the extremely conserved LepA protein, present in all bacteria and mitochondria, is a third elongation factor required for accurate and efficient protein synthesis. LepA has the unique function of back-translocating posttranslocational ribosomes, and the results suggest that it recognizes ribosomes after a defective translocation reaction and induces a back-translocation, thus giving EF-G a second chance to translocate the tRNAs correctly. We suggest renaming LepA as elongation factor 4 (EF4).

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