How does a ribosome work within a cell?


The ribosomes provide the structural site where the mRNA sits.

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structural site
Protein biosynthesis

Protein biosynthesis is the process by which biological cells generate new proteins; it is balanced by the loss of cellular proteins via degradation or export. Translation, the assembly of proteins by ribosomes, is an essential part of the biosynthetic pathway, along with generation of messenger RNA (mRNA), aminoacylation of transfer RNA (tRNA), co-translational transport, and post-translational modification. Protein biosynthesis is strictly regulated at multiple steps, and error-checking mechanisms are in place.

The cistron DNA is transcribed into a variety of RNA intermediates. The last version is used as a template in synthesis of a polypeptide chain. Protein will often be synthesized directly from genes by translating mRNA. When a protein must be available on short notice or in large quantities, a protein precursor is produced. A proprotein is an inactive protein containing one or more inhibitory peptides that can be activated when the inhibitory sequence is removed by proteolysis during posttranslational modification. A preprotein is a form that contains a signal sequence (an N-terminal signal peptide) that specifies its insertion into or through membranes, i.e., targets them for secretion. The signal peptide is cleaved off in the endoplasmic reticulum. Preproproteins have both sequences (inhibitory and signal) still present.

Gene expression

Gene expression is the process by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product. These products are often proteins, but in non-protein coding genes such as ribosomal RNA (rRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA) or small nuclear RNA (snRNA) genes, the product is a functional RNA. The process of gene expression is used by all known life - eukaryotes (including multicellular organisms), prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea), possibly induced by viruses - to generate the macromolecular machinery for life. Several steps in the gene expression process may be modulated, including the transcription, RNA splicing, translation, and post-translational modification of a protein. Gene regulation gives the cell control over structure and function, and is the basis for cellular differentiation, morphogenesis and the versatility and adaptability of any organism. Gene regulation may also serve as a substrate for evolutionary change, since control of the timing, location, and amount of gene expression can have a profound effect on the functions (actions) of the gene in a cell or in a multicellular organism.

In genetics, gene expression is the most fundamental level at which the genotype gives rise to the phenotype. The genetic code stored in DNA is "interpreted" by gene expression, and the properties of the expression give rise to the organism's phenotype. Such phenotypes are often expressed by the synthesis of proteins that control the organism's shape, or that act as enzymes catalysing specific metabolic pathways characterising the organism.

Cell biology

Cell biology (formerly cytology, from the Greek kytos, "contain") is a scientific discipline that studies cells – their physiological properties, their structure, the organelles they contain, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. This is done both on a microscopic and molecular level. Cell biology research encompasses both the great diversity of single-celled organisms like bacteria and protozoa, as well as the many specialized cells in multicellular organisms such as humans, plants, and sponges.

Knowing the components of cells and how cells work is fundamental to all biological sciences. Appreciating the similarities and differences between cell types is particularly important to the fields of cell and molecular biology as well as to biomedical fields such as cancer research and developmental biology. These fundamental similarities and differences provide a unifying theme, sometimes allowing the principles learned from studying one cell type to be extrapolated and generalized to other cell types. Therefore, research in cell biology is closely related to genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology, and developmental biology.

Messenger RNA

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a large family of RNA molecules that convey genetic information from DNA to the ribosome, where they specify the amino acid sequence of the protein products of gene expression. Following transcription of mRNA by RNA polymerase, the mRNA is translated into a polymer of amino acids: a protein, as summarized in the central dogma of molecular biology.

As in DNA, mRNA genetic information is encoded in the sequence of nucleotides, which are arranged into codons consisting of three bases each. Each codon encodes for a specific amino acid, except the stop codons, which terminate protein synthesis. This process of translation of codons into amino acids requires two other types of RNA: Transfer RNA (tRNA), that mediates recognition of the codon and provides the corresponding amino acid, and ribosomal RNA (rRNA), that is the central component of the ribosome's protein-manufacturing machinery.

Ribosome Recycling Factor

Ribosome Recycling Factor (RRF) is a protein found in bacterial cells as well as eukaryotic organelles, specifically mitochondria and chloroplasts. It functions to recycle ribosomes after completion of protein synthesis.

The ribosome recycling factor was discovered in the early 1970s by the work of Akira Kaji and Akikazu Hiroshima at the University of Pennsylvania. Their work described the requirement for two protein factors to release ribosomes from mRNA. These two factors were identified as RRF, an unknown protein until then, and Elongation Factor G (EF-G), a protein already identified and known to function in protein synthesis. RRF was originally called Ribosome Releasing Factor but is now called Ribosome Recycling Factor.

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