Year of Publication
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
During protein synthesis, tRNAs and their associated mRNA codons move sequentially on the ribosome from the A (aminoacyl) site to the P (peptidyl) site to the E (exit) site in a process catalyzed by a universally conserved ribosome-dependent GTPase [elongation factor G (EF-G) in prokaryotes and elongation factor 2 (EF-2) in eukaryotes]. Although the high-resolution structure of EF-G bound to the posttranslocation ribosome has been determined, the pretranslocation conformation of the ribosome bound with EF-G and A-site tRNA has evaded visualization owing to the transient nature of this state. Here we use electron cryomicroscopy to determine the structure of the 70S ribosome with EF-G, which is trapped in the pretranslocation state using antibiotic viomycin. Comparison with the posttranslocation ribosome shows that the small subunit of the pretranslocation ribosome is rotated by ∼12° relative to the large subunit. Domain IV of EF-G is positioned in the cleft between the body and head of the small subunit outwardly of the A site and contacts the A-site tRNA. Our findings suggest a model in which domain IV of EF-G promotes the translocation of tRNA from the A to the P site as the small ribosome subunit spontaneously rotates back from the hybrid, rotated state into the nonrotated posttranslocation state.