How does a scanning ribosomal particle move along the 5'-untranslated region of eukaryotic mRNA? Brownian Ratchet model

Biochemistry. 2009 Nov 17;48(45):10688-92. doi: 10.1021/bi901379a.


A model of the ATP-dependent unidirectional movement of the 43S ribosomal initiation complex (=40S ribosomal subunit + eIF1 + eIF1A + eIF2.GTP.Met-tRNA(i) + eIF3) during scanning of the 5'-untranslated region of eukaryotic mRNA is proposed. The model is based on the principles of molecular Brownian ratchet machines and explains several enigmatic data concerning the scanning complex. In this model, the one-dimensional diffusion of the ribosomal initiation complex along the mRNA chain is rectified into the net-unidirectional 5'-to-3' movement by the Feynman ratchet-and-pawl mechanism. The proposed mechanism is organized by the heterotrimeric protein eIF4F (=eIF4A + eIF4E + eIF4G), attached to the scanning ribosomal particle via eIF3, and the RNA-binding protein eIF4B that is postulated to play the role of the pawl. The energy for the useful work of the ratchet-and-pawl mechanism is supplied from ATP hydrolysis induced by the eIF4A subunit: ATP binding and its hydrolysis alternately change the affinities of eIF4A for eIF4B and for mRNA, resulting in the restriction of backward diffusional sliding of the 43S ribosomal complex along the mRNA chain, while stochastic movements ahead are allowed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5' Untranslated Regions*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / chemistry
  • Hydrolysis
  • Models, Chemical*
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry*
  • Ribosomes*


  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Adenosine Triphosphate