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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2011 Feb;21(1):137-45. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Dynamics of the translational machinery.

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Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5126, USA.


The recent growth in single molecule studies of translation has provided an insight into the molecular mechanism of ribosomal function. Single molecule fluorescence approaches allowed direct observation of the structural rearrangements occurring during translation and revealed dynamic motions of the ribosome and its ligands. These studies demonstrated how ligand binding affects dynamics of the ribosome, and the role of the conformational sampling in large-scale rearrangements intrinsic to translation elongation. The application of time-resolved cryo-electron microscopy revealed new conformational intermediates during back-translocation providing an insight into ribosomal dynamics from an alternative perspective. Recent developments permitted examination of conformational and compositional dynamics of the ribosome in real-time through multiple cycles of elongation at the single molecule level. The zero-mode waveguide approach allowed direct observation of the compositional dynamics of tRNA occupancy on the elongating ribosome. The emergence of single molecule in vivo techniques provided insights into the mechanism and regulation of translation at the organismal level.

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