Ribosomes and Protein Synthesis | Biology I
Many antibiotics inhibit bacterial protein synthesis
Certain nascent peptide chains are able to regulate ribosome functionwhile they are still being synthesized, i.e., when they are still insidethe ribosomal exit tunnel. One of the classical examples is TnaC, aleader peptide of the tryptophanase operon in . At highconcentrations of tryptophan, TnaC stalls the ribosome, inhibitingtermination of its synthesis. Through an intricate gene regulatorymechanism, stalling ultimately leads to the expression of genesresponsible for degrading tryptophan.
The Nucleolus, Ribosomes and Protein Synthesis
The structural basis for TnaC-mediated translational stalling wasaddressed by obtaining a 5.8-Å cryo-EM map of the ribosome stalled byTnaC and high concentrations of tryptophan (Fig. 8). The cryo-EM datashows that the nascent chain adopts a distinct conformation in the exittunnel. We applied MDFF to obtain an atomic model of the entire ribosomeand the stalling nascent chain (Fig. 8F). The model allowed us to mapthe contacts between TnaC and the exit tunnel, as well as proposepossible communication pathways that would lead to inactivation of thecatalytic center of the ribosome (the so-called peptidyltransferasecenter, or PTC). One of the main findings was that two criticalribosomal residues at the PTC adopt conformations that are incompatiblewith cohabitation by release factors, which catalyze termination ofprotein synthesis.