Structure of functionally activated small ribosomal subunit at 3.3 angstroms resolution

Cell. 2000 Sep 1;102(5):615-23. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)00084-2.


The small ribosomal subunit performs the decoding of genetic information during translation. The structure of that from Thermus thermophilus shows that the decoding center, which positions mRNA and three tRNAs, is constructed entirely of RNA. The entrance to the mRNA channel will encircle the message when a latch-like contact closes and contributes to processivity and fidelity. Extended RNA helical elements that run longitudinally through the body transmit structural changes, correlating events at the particle's far end with the cycle of mRNA translocation at the decoding region. 96% of the nucleotides were traced and the main fold of all proteins was determined. The latter are either peripheral or appear to serve as linkers. Some may assist the directionality of translocation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Pairing
  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer / chemistry
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / chemistry*
  • Ribosomes / genetics
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Thermus thermophilus / chemistry*
  • Thermus thermophilus / cytology
  • Thermus thermophilus / genetics


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Transfer

Associated data

  • PDB/1FKA