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Biochem Soc Trans. 2011 Apr;39(2):658-62. doi: 10.1042/BST0390658.

The ribosome as a molecular machine: the mechanism of tRNA-mRNA movement in translocation.

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Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.


Translocation of tRNA and mRNA through the ribosome is one of the most dynamic events during protein synthesis. In the cell, translocation is catalysed by EF-G (elongation factor G) and driven by GTP hydrolysis. Major unresolved questions are: how the movement is induced and what the moving parts of the ribosome are. Recent progress in time-resolved cryoelectron microscopy revealed trajectories of tRNA movement through the ribosome. Driven by thermal fluctuations, the ribosome spontaneously samples a large number of conformational states. The spontaneous movement of tRNAs through the ribosome is loosely coupled to the motions within the ribosome. EF-G stabilizes conformational states prone to translocation and promotes a conformational rearrangement of the ribosome (unlocking) that accelerates the rate-limiting step of translocation: the movement of the tRNA anticodons on the small ribosomal subunit. EF-G acts as a Brownian ratchet providing directional bias for movement at the cost of GTP hydrolysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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