Unraveling the dynamics of ribosome translocation

Jin Chen, Albert Tsai, Seán E. O'Leary, Alexey Petrov, Joseph D. Puglisi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Translocation is one of the key events in translation, requiring large-scale conformational changes in the ribosome, movements of two transfer RNAs (tRNAs) across a distance of more than 20. Å, and the coupled movement of the messenger RNA (mRNA) by one codon, completing one cycle of peptide-chain elongation. Translocation is catalyzed by elongation factor G (EF-G in bacteria), which hydrolyzes GTP in the process. However, how the conformational rearrangements of the ribosome actually drive the movements of the tRNAs and how EF-G GTP hydrolysis plays a role in this process are still unclear. Fluorescence methods, both single-molecule and bulk, have provided a dynamic view of translocation, allowing us to follow the different conformational changes of the ribosome in real-time. The application of electron microscopy has revealed new conformational intermediates during translocation and important structural rearrangements in the ribosome that drive tRNA movement, while computational approaches have added quantitative views of the translational pathway. These recent advances shed light on the process of translocation, providing insight on how to resolve the different descriptions of translocation in the current literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)804-814
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Opinion in Structural Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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