Translation against an applied force

Gary M. Skinner, Yeonee Seol, Koen Visscher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


Ribosome structure and mechanism are largely conserved among all known forms of life. Therefore, the motions associated with translation may be among the most ancient and fundamental in biology. However, the molecular mechanism of translocation, the coordinated movement of tRNAs and associated mRNA on the ribosome, has eluded scientists and remains obscure. Single-molecule experiments using optical tweezers and fluorescence microscope are starting to shed new light on these questions. For example, we have observed that moderate forces reverse direction of motion and ribosomes seem to slip backward into the 5' direction along a poly(U) message. Although the detailed molecular mechanism for ribosome slippage is not fully understood, these observations raise interesting biological questions about e.g. -1 frameshifting. Is the -1 frameshift essential for HIV-1 replication a result of tension in the message? Single-molecule experiments open the way towards quantitative modeling of ribosome motion and related phenomena such as -1 frameshifting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBIOLOGICAL PHYSICS - 3rd Mexican Meeting on Mathematicaland Experimental Physics
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2007
Event3rd Mexican Meeting on Mathematical and Experimental Physics - Mexico City, Mexico
Duration: Sep 10 2007Sep 14 2007

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Other3rd Mexican Meeting on Mathematical and Experimental Physics
CityMexico City


  • RNA elasticity
  • Single-molecule
  • Translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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