Modeling the structure of the ribosome
Easterwood, Thomas R.
Harvey, Stephen C.
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Considering the size and complexity of the ribosome and the growing body of data from a wide range of experiments on ribosomal structure, it is becoming increasingly important to develop tools that facilitate the development of reliable models for the ribosome. We use a combination of manual and computer-based approaches for building and refining models of the ribosome and other RNA–protein complexes. Our methods are aimed at determining the range of models compatible with the data, making quantitative statements about the positional uncertainties (resolution) of different regions, identifying conflicts in the data, establishing which regions of the ribosome need further experimental exploration, and, where possible, predicting the outcome of future experiments. Our previous low-resolution model for the small subunit of the Escherichia coli ribosome is briefly reviewed, along with progress on atomic resolution modeling of the mRNA–tRNA complex and its interaction with the decoding site of the 16S RNA.