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Science. 1987 May 15;236(4803):813-6.

A tunnel in the large ribosomal subunit revealed by three-dimensional image reconstruction.


A better understanding of the molecular mechanism of protein biosynthesis depends on the availability of a reliable model for the ribosome particle. The application of a diffraction technique, namely, three-dimensional image reconstruction from two-dimensional sheets of the large ribosomal subunits of Bacillus stearothermophilus at a resolution of 30 angstroms is described. The resulting three-dimensional model shows at least four projecting arms, arranged radially near the presumed interface with the 30S subunit. The projecting arms are positioned around a cleft, which turns into a tunnel with a length of 100 to 120 angstroms and a diameter of up to 25 angstroms. This tunnel spans the particle and may provide the path taken by the nascent polypeptide chain.

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