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Mitochondrial ribosome revealed
Date:1/23/2014

ne the exact location of the RNA and protein molecules within the enzyme complex, the researchers used a method derived from Aebersold's laboratory a method called 'chemical cross-linking combined with mass spectrometry'. Here, the individual protein components of the ribosome are chemically cross-linked, fragmented into peptides for further analysis, and sequenced in the mass spectrometer. From this data, it is then possible to determine the structure of a protein complex, such as the ribosome and its large subunit. A great deal of computer power is required, however, and so the research team used Brutus, ETH's mainframe computer.

The combination of these methods enabled the researchers to succeed in creating a high-resolution structural model of the large subunit of the mitochondrial ribosome with unprecedented precision.

Key to the study of disease

Thanks to their new findings, the researchers can now explain why mitochondrial ribosomes are always located at the membrane of the mitochondrion. In the vicinity of the tunnel exit, through which freshly synthesised proteins leave the ribosome, the biologists were able to localise a protein with similarity to membrane anchor proteins. From this observation, they have been able to conclude that during the course of evolution an anchor protein of this kind was integrated in the ribosome in order to fix it to the mitochondrial membrane, thus allowing the freshly synthesised proteins to be targeted directly to their destination in the membrane.

On the basis of this ground-breaking work, the researchers also hope to gain new insights into the functioning and disorders of this important cellular organelle. Defects in the genetic material coding for the components of mitochondria can lead, for example, to muscle diseases and also play a role in cancer. Cancer cells not only require high levels of nutrients in order to grow quickly, but also large amounts of energy. Their energy metabolism th
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Contact: Nenad Ban
ban@mol.biol.ethz.ch
41-446-332-785
ETH Zurich
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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