Structure of the large ribosomal subunit from human mitochondria

Science. 2014 Nov 7;346(6210):718-722. doi: 10.1126/science.1258026. Epub 2014 Oct 2.


Human mitochondrial ribosomes are highly divergent from all other known ribosomes and are specialized to exclusively translate membrane proteins. They are linked with hereditary mitochondrial diseases and are often the unintended targets of various clinically useful antibiotics. Using single-particle cryogenic electron microscopy, we have determined the structure of its large subunit to 3.4 angstrom resolution, revealing 48 proteins, 21 of which are specific to mitochondria. The structure unveils an adaptation of the exit tunnel for hydrophobic nascent peptides, extensive remodeling of the central protuberance, including recruitment of mitochondrial valine transfer RNA (tRNA(Val)) to play an integral structural role, and changes in the tRNA binding sites related to the unusual characteristics of mitochondrial tRNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / chemistry
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / ultrastructure
  • Mutation
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA, Transfer, Val / analysis
  • RNA, Transfer, Val / chemistry*
  • Ribosome Subunits / chemistry*
  • Ribosome Subunits / genetics
  • Ribosome Subunits / ultrastructure*


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • RNA, Transfer, Val

Associated data

  • PDB/3J7Y