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Ribosomes, the essential machinery used for protein synthesis is recycled after each one round of translation. An enzyme called ABCE1 is responsible for this process and turns out to be remarkably plastic as LMU biophysicists report.
Ribosomes translate the genetic information, which is first transcribed into messenger RNAs by polymerases, into the corresponding sequences of amino acids that define the structure and function of specific cellular proteins. Ribosomes are therefore indispensable for maintenance and specialized functions of all cell types. They bind sequentially to individual mRNAs and progressively decode their nucleotide sequences. When a ribosome has reached the end of an mRNA or becomes stalled along the way for one reason or another, it must be actively released, i.e., recycled to enable binding to another mRNA for a new round of synthesis. In all organisms (except bacteria), the highly conserved protein enzyme ABCE1 conducts these essential recycling processes, which involves the dissociation of the two ribosomal subunits. Using a biophysical method based on the fluorescence resonance transfer (FRET), which allows one to measure distances between specific amino acids in a protein even dynamically, LMU biophysicist Thorben Cordes, together with Robert Tampé (Frankfurt University) and researchers at the University of Groningen (Netherlands), has now shown that ABCE1 adopts a surprisingly wide range of structural conformations during the course of ribosome...
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