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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2011 Apr;18(4):457-62. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2011. Epub 2011 Mar 13.

mRNA translocation occurs during the second step of ribosomal intersubunit rotation.

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Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, USA.


During protein synthesis, mRNA and tRNA undergo coupled translocation through the ribosome in a process that is catalyzed by elongation factor G (EF-G). On the basis of cryo-EM reconstructions, counterclockwise and clockwise rotational movements between the large and small ribosomal subunits have been implicated in a proposed ratcheting mechanism to drive the unidirectional movement of translocation. We used a combination of two fluorescence-based approaches to study the timing of these events, intersubunit fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements to observe relative rotational movement of the subunits, and a fluorescence quenching assay to monitor translocation of mRNA. Binding of EF-G-GTP first induces rapid counterclockwise intersubunit rotation, followed by a slower, clockwise reversal of the rotational movement. We compared the rates of these movements and found that mRNA translocation occurs during the second, clockwise rotation event, corresponding to the transition from the hybrid state to the classical state.

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