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Visualizing moving molecules

Memphis, Tennessee, July 7, 2021

Two researchers in lab coats working in the lab.

From left: Co-authors Emily Rundlet and Mikael Holm, PhD, contributed to research that captured six new structures of the ribosome at work.

Expression of the information encoded in DNA makes life possible. DNA is first transcribed into RNA; RNA is then translated into protein. Tiny cellular machines called ribosomes are central to this process. Along with partner enzymes, the ribosome helps decode a subtype of RNA to make proteins.

The process depends on precise movement. As it goes to work, the ribosome changes its shape. The researchers wanted to visualize and better understand these movements. To do so scientists used imaging technologies called smFRET and cryo-EM.

They captured six new structures of the ribosome at work. Most antibiotics target the ribosome. A better understanding of how the ribosome works may aid development of these drugs.

“One of the real mysteries of life is figuring out how molecules navigate between the various shapes that they can adopt,” said corresponding author Scott Blanchard, Ph.D., St. Jude Structural Biology.

Nature published an article on this work.

Read the News Release

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