Ribosome

The ribosome is a large and complex molecular machine, found within all living cells, that serves as the primary site of biological protein synthesis. Ribosomes link amino acids together in the order specified by messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules. Ribosomes consist of two major subunits--the small ribosomal subunit reads the mRNA, while the large subunit joins amino acids to form a polypeptide chain. Each subunit is composed of one or more ribosomal RNA (rRNA) molecules and a variety of proteins.

The term originates from ribonucleic acid and the Greek soma, meaning "body". The sequence of DNA encoding for a protein may be copied many times into messenger RNA (mRNA) chains of a similar sequence. Ribosomes can bind to an mRNA chain and use it as a template for determining the correct sequence of amino acids in a particular protein. Amino acids are selected, collected and carried to the ribosome by transfer RNA (tRNA molecules), which enter one part of the ribosome and bind to the messenger RNA chain. The attached amino acids are then linked together by another part of the ribosome. Once the protein is produced, it can then 'fold' to produce a specific functional three-dimensional structure.

A ribosome is made from complexes of RNAs and proteins and is therefore a ribonucleoprotein. Each ribosome is divided into two subunits. The smaller subunit binds to the mRNA pattern, while the larger subunit binds to the tRNA and the amino acids. When a ribosome finishes reading an mRNA molecule, these two subunits split apart. Ribosomes are ribozymes, because the catalytic peptidyl transferase activity that links amino acids together is performed by the ribosomal RNA.

Ribosomes from bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes (the three domains of life on Earth) differ in their size, sequence, structure, and the ratio of protein to RNA. The differences in structure allow some antibiotics to kill bacteria by inhibiting their ribosomes, while leaving human ribosomes unaffected. In bacteria and archaea, more than one ribosome may move along a single mRNA chain at one time, each "reading" its sequence and producing a corresponding protein molecule. The ribosomes in the mitochondria of eukaryotic cells functionally resemble in many features those in bacteria, reflecting the likely evolutionary origin of mitochondria.

Together with Albert Claude and Christian de Duve, George Emil Palade was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, in 1974, for the discovery of the ribosomes. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009 was awarded to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath for determining the detailed structure and mechanism of the ribosome.

Read more about Ribosome:  Description, Biogenesis, Ribosome Locations, Structure, Function

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Ribosome Biogenesis
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