JUPITER, FL, August 16, 2001 As part of a joint research effort with the University of Michigan, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have for the first time defined the structure of one of the cell's most basic engines, which is required for cell growth, as it assembles from its components.
The study reveals a series of redundant mechanisms that assure production of these critical structures while avoiding any missteps that could lead to their destruction or to the production of incorrect cellular building blocks. These findings throw new light on a process that is integrally involved in a number of disease states, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
The study, published on August 11, 2011, in the advance online edition of the prestigious journal Science, reveals the structure of an assembly intermediate of the small ribosomal subunit.
Ribosomes, which are large macromolecular machines required for cell growth in all organisms, catalyze the production of proteins in all cells. They read the genetic code carried by messenger RNA, and then catalyze or translate that code into proteins within cells, assembling them from amino acids.
Understanding the process of ribosome assemblywhich involves almost 200 essential proteins known as "assembly factors" in addition to the four RNA molecules and 78 ribosomal proteins that are part of the mature ribosomeis a potentially fruitful area of research because of the importance of ribosome assembly for cell growth. The link between defects in ribosome assembly and cancer clearly points to this pathway as a new target for anti-cancer drugs.
In the current study, the scientists used cryo-electron microscopy (where samples are studied at temperatures of � C) to image the 40S ribosome structure.
"This is the best-defined ribosomal assembly intermediate we have ever had with true structural information on the location
|Contact: Mika Ono|
Scripps Research Institute