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Published 2001 | Published
Journal Article Open

Atomic Structures of the 30S Subunit and Its Complexes with Ligands and Antibiotics


The two subunits that make up the ribosome have both distinct and cooperative functions. The 30S ribosomal subunit binds messenger RNA (mRNA) and is involved in the selection of cognate transfer RNA (tRNA) by monitoring codon–anticodon base-pairing during the decoding process. The 50S subunit catalyzes peptide-bond formation. Both subunits work in concert to move tRNAs and mRNAs relative to the ribosome in translocation, and both are the target of a large number of naturally occurring antibiotics. Thus, useful information about the mechanism of translation can be gleaned from structures of both individual subunits and the intact ribosome. In this paper, we describe our work on the determination of the atomic structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit and its complexes with RNA ligands, antibiotics, and initiation factor IF1. The results provide structural insights into how the ribosome recognizes cognate tRNA and discriminates against near-cognate tRNA. They also provide a structural basis for understanding the action of various antibiotics that target the 30S subunit.

Additional Information

© 2001 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. The Authors acknowledge that six months after the full-issue publication date, the Article will be distributed under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC License (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (UK) and National Institutes of Health grant GM-44973 (to S.W. White and V.R.). D.E.B. was the recipient of a Human Frontier Science Program postdoctoral fellowship, and W.M.C. was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health predoctoral fellowship. We dedicate this to the memory of Professor Paul Sigler, who facilitated this work at a crucial juncture.

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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023