UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

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RNA Therapeutics Institute; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

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Article Preprint


Investigative Techniques | Molecular Biology | Nucleic Acids, Nucleotides, and Nucleosides


During translation, a conserved GTPase elongation factor—EF-G in bacteria or eEF2 in eukaryotes—translocates tRNA and mRNA through the ribosome. EF-G has been proposed to act as a flexible motor that propels tRNA and mRNA movement, as a rigid pawl that biases unidirectional translocation resulting from ribosome rearrangements, or by various combinations of motor- and pawl-like mechanisms. Using time-resolved cryo-EM, we visualized GTP-catalyzed translocation without inhibitors, capturing elusive structures of ribosome•EF-G intermediates at near-atomic resolution. Prior to translocation, EF-G binds near peptidyl-tRNA, while the rotated 30S subunit stabilizes the EF-G GTPase center. Reverse 30S rotation releases Pi and translocates peptidyl-tRNA and EF-G by ∼20 Å. An additional 4-Å translocation initiates EF-G dissociation from a transient ribosome state with highly swiveled 30S head. The structures visualize how nearly rigid EF-G rectifies inherent and spontaneous ribosomal dynamics into tRNA-mRNA translocation, whereas GTP hydrolysis and Pi release drive EF-G dissociation.


Molecular Biology, cryo-EM, tRNA, mRNA

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DOI of Published Version



bioRxiv 2021.05.31.446434; doi: Link to preprint on bioRxiv.


This article is a preprint. Preprints are preliminary reports of work that have not been certified by peer review.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.