Ribosome. The structure of the human mitochondrial ribosome

Science. 2015 Apr 3;348(6230):95-98. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa1193. Epub 2015 Apr 2.


The highly divergent ribosomes of human mitochondria (mitoribosomes) synthesize 13 essential proteins of oxidative phosphorylation complexes. We have determined the structure of the intact mitoribosome to 3.5 angstrom resolution by means of single-particle electron cryogenic microscopy. It reveals 80 extensively interconnected proteins, 36 of which are specific to mitochondria, and three ribosomal RNA molecules. The head domain of the small subunit, particularly the messenger (mRNA) channel, is highly remodeled. Many intersubunit bridges are specific to the mitoribosome, which adopts conformations involving ratcheting or rolling of the small subunit that are distinct from those seen in bacteria or eukaryotes. An intrinsic guanosine triphosphatase mediates a contact between the head and central protuberance. The structure provides a reference for analysis of mutations that cause severe pathologies and for future drug design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aminoglycosides / pharmacology
  • Aminoglycosides / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / chemistry
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / drug therapy
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / chemistry
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal / chemistry
  • Ribosomal Proteins / chemistry
  • Ribosomes / chemistry
  • Ribosomes / genetics
  • Ribosomes / ultrastructure*


  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases

Associated data

  • PDB/3J9M