Textbook explanation of mRNA translation may need rethinking

Our understanding of how messenger RNAs are translated into proteins is challenged by new research published today in the Open Access journal Journal of Biology. The study suggests that EF-G, the GTPase that facilitates tRNA translocation in bacteria, enters the ribosome bound to a different guanine nucleotide than previously thought – GDP, not GTP. The ribosome itself then seems to act as the guanine-nucleotide exchange factor, not some as-yet-unidentified factor as previously assumed. This finding questions the prevailing model for RNA translocation.

According to the textbook model EF-G provides the energy needed for the translocation phase of translation by bringing GTP into the ribosome where GTP is subsequently hydrolysed into GDP.

Andrei Zavialov, Vasili Hauryliuk and Måns Ehrenberg from Uppsala University in Sweden first performed an important purification step ensuring that their GTP was not contaminated by GDP (and vice versa), as had been the case with previous studies using these purified components. They next measured the affinity of EF-G for GTP and GDP. Their results strongly suggest that EF-G is bound to GDP in the cytoplasm and that it binds to the pre-translocation complex – composed of the ribosome, tRNA and mRNA strand – as a EF-G-GDP complex. The ribosome itself then seems to act as a GTP exchange factor that swaps GDP for GTP, which results in a modification in the structure of the ribosome. This triggers partial translocation of the mRNA, which is completed after GTP hydrolysis. “Our results suggest that the ribosome plays a previously unidentified dual role of both guanine-nucleotide exchange factor and GTPase-activating protein” explain the authors. EF-G then detaches from the ribosome in its GDP-bound form, ready to be used again by another ribosome.

These findings differ radically from all previous models and as such may represent a considerable step forward in our understanding of translocation, a fundamental mechanism in protein synthesis and gene expression. RNA translation is a highly conserved mechanism and these results using a bacterial system are likely to be applicable to higher organisms as well. This should spur more research in the field to confirm or disprove the findings and give us a clearer picture of RNA translation. In particular, the present clarification of the translocation process at the biochemical level may allow a deeper understanding of how relative movements of the ribosomal subunits can accomplish thousands of translocation events without frame-shifting or loss of tRNA-bound nascent protein chains during peptide elongation.

Media Contact

Juliette Savin alfa

More Information:

http://www.biomedcentral.com

All latest news from the category: Life Sciences and Chemistry

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences and chemistry area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

An exotic interplay of electrons

International research team discovers novel quantum state. Water that simply will not freeze, no matter how cold it gets – a research group involving the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has discovered…

Positively charged nanomaterials treat obesity

… anywhere you want. Columbia researchers discover that the cationic charged P-G3 reduces fat at targeted locations by inhibiting the unhealthy lipid storage of enlarged fat cells. Researchers have long…

New analysis approach could help boost sensitivity of large telescopes

Large telescope receiver optics confirmed in lab prior to installation at Simons Observatory. Some of the largest and most sophisticated telescopes ever made are under construction at the Simons Observatory…

Partners & Sponsors