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Annu Rev Biochem. 2008;77:177-203. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.77.070606.101431.

Translation at the single-molecule level.

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Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Decades of studies have established translation as a multistep, multicomponent process that requires intricate communication to achieve high levels of speed, accuracy, and regulation. A crucial next step in understanding translation is to reveal the functional significance of the large-scale motions implied by static ribosome structures. This requires determining the trajectories, timescales, forces, and biochemical signals that underlie these dynamic conformational changes. Single-molecule methods have emerged as important tools for the characterization of motion in complex systems, including translation. In this review, we chronicle the key discoveries in this nascent field, which have demonstrated the power and promise of single-molecule techniques in the study of translation.

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