Nascent Proteins Caught in the Act

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Science  04 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5958, pp. 1352-1353
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183690

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X-ray crystallographic snapshots of ribosomes, associated translation factors, and transfer RNA (tRNA) have allowed dynamic aspects of protein translation to be reconstructed. What is still missing is a detailed structural understanding of events coupled to translation. Two landmark papers in this issue (1, 2) use cryo–electron microscopy (cryoEM) to obtain information at subnanometer resolution, enabling the direct visualization of nascent polypeptide chains in the ribosomal tunnel. The two different nascent chains of ribosome-nascent chain complexes (RNCs) instruct two distinct downstream pathways.