from the Natural-Nanomachines 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.
According to a press release [new URL for archived press release], two UCLA molecular biologists propose a solution in the 21 March 2002 issue of the journal Nature. In their paper, James A. Lake, UCLA professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, and UCLA graduate student Anne B. Simonson attempt to explain the molecular details of the protein synthesis process, including the location and movement of more than 10,000 atoms. In addition, they have located a novel binding site for transfer RNA (tRNA) when it enters the ribosome.
The research, which involved sophisticated computer simulation, was federally funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and the Astrobiology Institute
Previous research aimed at working out the structure and function of the ribosome was noted here on Nanodot on 4 April 2001 (with links to earlier posts).