Three-Dimensional Organization of Polyribosomes - A Modern Approach

Biochemistry (Mosc). 2018 Jan;83(Suppl 1):S48-S55. doi: 10.1134/S0006297918140055.


Polyribosomes in cells usually have a certain structural organization whose significance has not yet been elucidated. The development of cryo electron tomography has provided a new approach to study polyribosome structure. New data confirm or correct observations made earlier by classical techniques of electron microscopy. The existence of circular and linear (zigzag) topology of polyribosomes was confirmed, and their relationship with the frequently observed two-row forms was clarified. Contacts between ribosomes have been identified in densely packed three-dimensional helical polyribosomes. At the same time, modern cell-free translation systems have opened the possibility of investigating polyribosomes on mRNA of a given structure to elucidate the mechanism of polyribosome structure formation, especially of circular polyribosomes. There is an increasing amount of data supporting the idea of interdependence between polyribosome structure and their translational activity. Moreover, participation of polyribosomes in mRNA transport and localization of protein synthesis in the cell has been shown. Improvement of the resolution and the development of the cryo electron tomography technique for the analysis of polyribosomes in situ will enable further progress in understanding the process of protein synthesis in cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Polyribosomes / chemistry*
  • Polyribosomes / metabolism