Brimacombe, R. Max-Planck Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Berlin, Germany.
Wittmann, H. G. Max-Planck Institut für Genetik, Berlin, Germany.
Joseph, Simpson Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, La Jolla, California.
Last reviewed:August 2021
- Arrangement of components
- Role in protein synthesis
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Any of the small particles, present in large numbers in every living cell, whose function is to convert stored genetic information into protein molecules. Ribosomes are cellular factories that make proteins and are essential for life in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. In the protein synthesis process (Fig. 1), a molecule of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) is fed through the ribosome, and each successive trinucleotide codon on the messenger is recognized by complementary base pairing to the anticodon of an appropriate transfer RNA (tRNA) molecule, which is in turn covalently bound to a specific amino acid. The successive amino acids become linked together on the ribosome, forming a polypeptide chain whose amino acid sequence has thus been determined by the nucleic acid sequence of the mRNA. The polypeptide is subsequently folded into an active protein molecule. Ribosomes are themselves complex arrays of protein and RNA molecules, and their fundamental importance in molecular biology has prompted a vast amount of research, with a view to finding out how these particles function at the molecular level. See also: Genetic code; Genetics; Molecular biology; Protein; Ribonucleic acid (RNA)
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