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REVIEW: Ribosome as a Translocase and Helicase

Chen Bao1,a and Dmitri N. Ermolenko1,b,*

1Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, School of Medicine and Dentistry and Center for RNA Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received May 10, 2021; Revised May 21, 2021; Accepted May 21, 2021
During protein synthesis, ribosome moves along mRNA to decode one codon after the other. Ribosome translocation is induced by a universally conserved protein, elongation factor G (EF-G) in bacteria and elongation factor 2 (EF-2) in eukaryotes. EF-G-induced translocation results in unwinding of the intramolecular secondary structures of mRNA by three base pairs at a time that renders the translating ribosome a processive helicase. Professor Alexander Sergeevich Spirin has made numerous seminal contributions to understanding the molecular mechanism of translocation. Here, we review Spirin’s insights into the ribosomal translocation and recent advances in the field that stemmed from Spirin’s pioneering work. We also discuss key remaining challenges in studies of translocase and helicase activities of the ribosome.
KEY WORDS: ribosome, translocation, helicase, power stroke, Brownian ratchet

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297921080095