Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A Peek into the “Birthing Room” of Ribosomes


Scaffolding and specialised workers help with the delivery – Heidelberg biochemists gain new insights into biogenesis

A type of scaffolding on which specialised workers ply their trade helps in the manufacturing process of the two subunits from which the ribosome – the protein factory of the cell – originates. Biochemists at Heidelberg University discovered it after succeeding in getting a peek into the ribosomal “birthing room”.

Model of the small ribosomal subunit shown at its “birth”

Figure: BZH/Jochen Baßler

While studying baker's yeast as the model organism, the researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, discovered a shell that envelops the smaller of the two subunits during the ribosome's formation.

The results of the research could contribute to a greater understanding of ribosomopathies – abnormalities caused by impaired ribosome biogenesis. Because several medications also act on the biogenesis of ribosomes, the investigators hope to apply their findings to cancer research. The results of the research were published in the journal “Cell”.

The research team of Prof. Dr Ed Hurt of the Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center had already stumbled on the earliest known ribosomal precursor, the 90S pre-ribosome, 15 years ago. To find out the function of this giant precursor particle in ribosome biogenesis, Markus Kornprobst isolated the pre-ribosomes of baker's yeast in order to analyse their structure.

“In the process, we discovered that the precursor bore a large shell-like module that the cell recycled after work was finished,” explains Markus Kornprobst of Prof. Hurt's team. “The relatively compact phenotype of the 90S pre-ribosome gave us the idea that this shell, in combination with other factors, encloses the smaller of the two ribosomal subunits during biogenesis to allow seamless assembly of the particle in a protected environment.” Using cryo-electron microscopy, they were able to confirm their suspicion in collaboration with the Munich team of Prof. Dr. Roland Beckmann.

Another member of Dr. Hurt's lab, Dr Nikola Kellner, isolated the 90S pre-ribosome from a heat-loving fungus. “They are more stable and hence better suited to further analyses than 90S pre-ribosomes from other organisms,” Nikola Kellner explains.

Finally, with the aid of cryo-electron microscopy, the structure of this thermostable 90S pre-ribosome was detectable down to a resolution of less than a nanometre. “The 90S factors actually form a gigantic cohesive network that surrounds the small developing subunit like a scaffold, such as on a high-rise, where specialized workers perform their jobs using various tools,” explains Ed Hurt.

Original publication:
M. Kornprobst, M. Turk, N. Kellner, et al.: Architecture of the 90S Pre-ribosome: A Structural View on the Birth of the Eukaryotic Ribosome. Cell 166 (July 14, 2016), doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.06.014

Model of the small ribosomal subunit shown at its “birth”. Within the 90S pre-ribosome – the earliest known intermediate in ribosome biogenesis – the nascent small ribosomal subunit is encapsulated by a giant network of biogenesis factors (“workers”). In analogy, the image illustrates how a construction scaffold is decorated with workers, who use tools for hammering, trimming, and burnishing, in order to sculpture the small subunit (shown yellow and blue) in its centre.
Figure: BZH/Jochen Baßler

Prof. Dr. Ed Hurt
Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center
Phone +49 6221 54-4781, -4173

Communications and Marketing
Press Office, phone +49 6221 54-2311

Weitere Informationen:

Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>