The bacterial ribosome is a protein/RNA complex that functions in protein translation. Single-stranded mRNA feeds into the ribosome complex, where each 3-base codon is matched to its tRNA anticodons, and subsequent amino acids are strung together into a peptide chain. The 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was shared among Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz, and Ada Yonath. All three had a part in determining the structure and function of the ribosome.

The large subunit (50S) of our Ribosome Mini Model emphasizes the single adenosine base (yellow) that catalyzes peptide bond formation during protein synthesis. The large subunit is a protein-RNA complex composed of 34 proteins and 2 rRNAs (23S and 5S). Different RNA domains are displayed in spacefill format in cyan, magenta, pink, yellow, green, gray and red.  The RNA folds into this specific 3-D structure, with the proteins (white spacefill format) serving as the mortar between the folds of ribosomal RNAs. The newly synthesized protein exits the ribosome through a visible channel that extends from the catalytic adenosine to the surface of the ribosome.

The small subunit of the bacterial ribosome is a protein-rRNA complex composed of 21 proteins and a single RNA (16S). It folds into a specific 3-D structure and is stabilized by associated proteins. Different RNA domains are displayed in spacefill format in blue, magenta, red, yellow, and orange. Ribosomal proteins, also in spacefill format, are white. Each of the three tRNAs are displayed in spacefill format and colored a different shade of green.

These 4'' models are made of plaster by rapid prototyping and should be handled with care. Mini models will break if dropped, held tightly or handled roughly. The 30S Ribosome Mini Model's PDB file is 1GIX.pdb. The 50S Ribosome Mini Model's PDB file is 1FFK.pdb.