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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2010 May;17(5):555-60. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.1790. Epub 2010 Apr 18.

Structural aspects of messenger RNA reading frame maintenance by the ribosome.

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Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Département de Biologie et de Génomique Structurales, Illkirch, France.


One key question in protein biosynthesis is how the ribosome couples mRNA and tRNA movements to prevent disruption of weak codon-anticodon interactions and loss of the translational reading frame during translocation. Here we report the complete path of mRNA on the 70S ribosome at the atomic level (3.1-A resolution), and we show that one of the conformational rearrangements that occurs upon transition from initiation to elongation is a narrowing of the downstream mRNA tunnel. This rearrangement triggers formation of a network of interactions between the mRNA downstream of the A-site codon and the elongating ribosome. Our data elucidate the mechanism by which hypermodified nucleoside 2-methylthio-N6 isopentenyl adenosine at position 37 (ms(2)i(6)A37) in tRNA(Phe)(GAA) stabilizes mRNA-tRNA interactions in all three tRNA binding sites. Another network of contacts is formed between this tRNA modification and ribosomal elements surrounding the mRNA E/P kink, resulting in the anchoring of P-site tRNA. These data allow rationalization of how modification deficiencies of ms(2)i(6)A37 in tRNAs may lead to shifts of the translational reading frame.

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