Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne RNA Transport

Name: Derek Smith
Status: educator
Grade: 9-12
Location: KY
Country: USA
Date: Winter 2013-14


Question: Do we know the biochemical reason as to why and how the mRNA goes and finds a particular ribosome? I know the bottom subunit of the ribosome is made of rRNA, but that interactionwould only be a weak hydrogen bond (if there is even a hydrogen bond that occurs).



Replies:
Hi Derek,

Never underestimate the power of a hydrogen bond. Remember, it's essentially the additive force of hydrogen bonding that keeps our DNA double-helix stable and properly base-paired. However, you are correct that the interactions between the mRNA and the small (bottom) ribosomal subunit are usually insufficient for translation to proceed. In both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms, the binding and initiation process of translation are assisted by a set of molecules called initiation factors (IFs). Many IFs are riboproteins, meaning that they are composed of both RNA and protein pieces that, together, constitute a functional machine. The IFs bind and orient the mRNA and both ribosomal subunits to coordinate the proper loading of the ribosome onto the mRNA strand. So, no, the interactions of the ribosomal rRNA are not considered sufficient for efficient translation; but the interactions of the IFs with the other translation machinery are often due to hydrogen bonds between the RNA components of the riboproteins, the mRNA, and the ribosome... never underestimate the power of the many, even if they are weak.

Sincerely, Rick Armstrong



Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 223
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: November 2011
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory