The ribosomal tunnel as a functional environment for nascent polypeptide folding and translational stalling

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2011 Apr;21(2):274-82. doi: 10.1016/


As the nascent polypeptide chain is being synthesized, it passes through a tunnel within the large ribosomal subunit and emerges at the solvent side where protein folding occurs. Despite the universality and conservation of dimensions of the ribosomal tunnel, a functional role for the ribosomal tunnel is only beginning to emerge: Rather than a passive conduit for the nascent chain, accumulating evidence indicates that the tunnel plays a more active role. In this article, we discuss recent structural insights into the role of the tunnel environment, and its implications for protein folding, co-translational targeting and translation regulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleocapsid / metabolism
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Folding*
  • Ribosomes / chemistry*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*


  • Peptides