The Structure and Function of the Eukaryotic Ribosome
Structures of the bacterial ribosome have provided a framework for understanding universal mechanisms of protein synthesis. However, the eukaryotic ribosome is much larger than it is in bacteria, and its activity is fundamentally different in many key ways. Recent cryo-electron microscopy reconstructions and X-ray crystal structures of eukaryotic ribosomes and ribosomal subunits now provide an unprecedented opportunity to explore mechanisms of eukaryotic translation and its regulation in atomic detail. This review describes the X-ray crystal structures of the Tetrahymena thermophila 40S and 60S subunits and the Saccharomyces cerevisiae 80S ribosome, as well as cryo-electron microscopy reconstructions of translating yeast and plant 80S ribosomes. Mechanistic questions about translation in eukaryotes that will require additional structural insights to be resolved are also presented.