Large and Small Ribosome Mini Models

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 of our Ribosome Mini Model emphasizes the single adenosine base (yellow) that catalyzes peptide bond formation during protein synthesis. The (50S) subunit a protein-RNA complex composed of 34 proteins and 2 rRNAs (23S and 5S). The rRNA folds into this specific 3-D structure, with the proteins 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 (30S) 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. In the small subunit of our Ribosome Mini Model, different RNA domains are displayed in spacefill format and are colored many different colors (blue, magenta, red, yellow, and orange). Ribosomal proteins are displayed in spacefill format and colored white. Each of the three tRNAs are displayed in spacefill format and colored a different shade of green.

Molecule of the Month

The Molecule of the Month by scientist, author and artist Dr. David Goodsell includes an introduction to the structure and function of the chosen molecule and a discussion of its relevance to human health and welfare. Molecule of the Month articles are frequently referred to by teachers, students and researchers. More...