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Structure. 1998 Mar 15;6(3):389-99.

The 80S rat liver ribosome at 25 A resolution by electron cryomicroscopy and angular reconstitution.

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Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin, Germany.



The ribosome is central to protein synthesis in all living organisms. Single-particle electron cryomicroscopy has recently led to the determination of three-dimensional structures of bacterial ribosomes to approximately 20 A, which have since revolutionised our understanding of ribosomal function. The structure we present here of the 80S rat liver ribosome leads the way to similar progress for mammalian ribosomes.


Among the new details revealed by our 25 A structure of the 80S rat liver ribosome are channels within the subunits, a large 'flat ribosomal surface' (FRS) on the outer surface of the large subunit and structural extensions of the mammalian compared to the bacterial ribosome. The main large subunit channel in both the bacterial and the mammalian species starts at the peptidyl transferase centre, below the central protuberance, and ends in the FRS, at the lower back of the large subunit. Structurally, the channels of both species can be directly superimposed.


The mammalian structural extensions--none of which trespass the FRS--can be interpreted in terms of rRNA inserts and additional protein content over that of bacterial ribosomes. The main large subunit channel, which ends at the FRS, is the best candidate for the exit channel for proteins targeted for the endoplasmic reticulum.

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