from the Reverse-engineering-3billion-years-of-R&D dept.
The translation of DNA/RNA instructions and the synthesis of proteins is arguably the most complex single-site operation carried out by biological systems at the molecular level, and it's done by relatively huge molecular machines called ribosomes. Insight into the operation of these naturally evolved molecular assembly devices could be invaluable to the design of artificial molecular machines.
Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute reported in the 20 July 2000 issue of the journal Nature that they have have "detected a ratcheting rotation deep inside the cell's tiny protein-making 'factory' at a key point in the protein construction process." An overview of their work, as well as some animations of ribosome operation, appear on the HHMI web site.