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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Nov 22;108(47):18943-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1108363108. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Excited states of ribosome translocation revealed through integrative molecular modeling.

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Theoretical Biology and Biophysics Group, Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA.


The dynamic nature of biomolecules leads to significant challenges when characterizing the structural properties associated with function. While X-ray crystallography and imaging techniques (such as cryo-electron microscopy) can reveal the structural details of stable molecular complexes, strategies must be developed to characterize configurations that exhibit only marginal stability (such as intermediates) or configurations that do not correspond to minima on the energy landscape (such as transition-state ensembles). Here, we present a methodology (MDfit) that utilizes molecular dynamics simulations to generate configurations of excited states that are consistent with available biophysical and biochemical measurements. To demonstrate the approach, we present a sequence of configurations that are suggested to be associated with transfer RNA (tRNA) movement through the ribosome (translocation). The models were constructed by combining information from X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, and biochemical data. These models provide a structural framework for translocation that may be further investigated experimentally and theoretically to determine the precise energetic character of each configuration and the transition dynamics between them.

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