Chapter 19: Conclusion: General Principles of Ribosome Structure and Function. . .331

19.1. Introduction 331

19.2. Basic Features of Ribosome Structure 331

19.2.1. Two Disparate Subparticles (Ribosomal Subunits) 331

19.2.2. Self-folding of Ribosomal RNA into Compact Core 331

19.2.3. Assembly of Various Ribosomal Proteins on RNA Core 332

19.3. Structural and Biochemical Grounds of Ribosome Function 333

19.3.1. Structural Pockets for Functional Centers 333

19.3.2. Division of Labor between Ribosomal Subunits 333 Genetic Functions of the Small Subunit 334 Enzymatic Functions of the Large Subunit 334

19.3.3. Large-Block Mobility of the Ribosome 335

19.3.4. GTP-Dependent Catalysis of Conformational Transitions 336


This book is based on an advanced course of lectures on ribosome structure and protein biosynthesis that I offer at the Moscow State University. These lectures have been part of a general course on molecular biology for almost three decades, and they have undergone considerable evolution as knowledge has been progressing in this field. The progress continues, and readers should be prepared that some facts, statements and ideas included in the book may be incomplete or out-of-date. In any case, this is primarily a textbook, but not a comprehensive review. It provides a background of knowledge and current ideas in the field and gives examples of observations and their interpretations. I understand that some interpretations and generalizations may be tentative or disputable, but I hope that this will stimulate thinking and discussing better than if I left white spots.

The book has a prototype: it is my monograph "Ribosome Structure and Protein Biosynthesis" published by the Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Menlo Park, California, in 1986. Here I have basically kept the former order of presentation of the topics and the subdivision into chapters. The contents of the chapters, however, have been significantly revised and supplemented. The newly written chapters on translational control in Prokaryotes (Chapter 16) and Eukaryotes (Chapter 17) are added. The chapters on morphology of the ribosome (Chapter 5), ribosomal RNA (Chapter 6) and cotranslational folding and transmembrane transport of proteins (Chapter 18) are completely rewritten in the co-authorship with Dr. V. D. Vasiliev, Prof. A. A. Bogdanov and Prof. V. N. Luzikov, respectively. The concluding chapter on general principles of ribosome structure and function is appended.

The literature references in this book, as in the previous one, are given mainly for teaching purposes, so that the reference lists at the end of each chapter are far from complete. To give an insight into the histories of discoveries I cited preferentially pioneer studies in the fields discussed. To provide information on the present state of knowledge, I have referred the reader to some of the recent publications. In addition, many illustrations, specifically those which are borrowed from other authors, are supplied with corresponding references. The book contains also many original illustrations made due to invaluable help of my colleagues at the Institute of Protein Research, Pushchino, especially P. G. Kuzin, A. Kommer, and V. A. Kolb. The assistance of L. N. Rozhanskaya, the secretary, M. G. Dashkevitch and V. V. Sosnovsky, Computers and Communication Department, and T. B. Kuvshinkina and M. S. Shelestova, Scientific Information Department, in preparing the manuscript is also greatly appreciated.

I am grateful to all my colleagues, as well as other scientists, who have read parts of the manuscripts and made their comments.

Alexander S. Spirin

Pushchino and Moscow,

July 1998

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