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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2011 Apr;21(2):274-82. doi: 10.1016/

The ribosomal tunnel as a functional environment for nascent polypeptide folding and translational stalling.

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Gene Center and Department of Biochemistry, Munich (CiPSM), Feodor-Lynenstr. 25, 81377 Munich, Germany.


As the nascent polypeptide chain is being synthesized, it passes through a tunnel within the large ribosomal subunit and emerges at the solvent side where protein folding occurs. Despite the universality and conservation of dimensions of the ribosomal tunnel, a functional role for the ribosomal tunnel is only beginning to emerge: Rather than a passive conduit for the nascent chain, accumulating evidence indicates that the tunnel plays a more active role. In this article, we discuss recent structural insights into the role of the tunnel environment, and its implications for protein folding, co-translational targeting and translation regulation.

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