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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the different steps in protein synthesis
  • Discuss the role of ribosomes in protein synthesis

The synthesis of proteins consumes more of a cell’s energy than any other metabolic process. In turn, proteins account for more mass than any other component of living organisms (with the exception of water), and proteins perform virtually every function of a cell. The process of translation, or protein synthesis, involves the decoding of an mRNA message into a polypeptide product. Amino acids are covalently strung together by interlinking peptide bonds in lengths ranging from approximately 50 amino acid residues to more than 1,000. Each individual amino acid has an amino group (NH 2 ) and a carboxyl (COOH) group. Polypeptides are formed when the amino group of one amino acid forms an amide (i.e., peptide) bond with the carboxyl group of another amino acid ( [link] ). This reaction is catalyzed by ribosomes and generates one water molecule.

Illustration shows two amino acids side-by-side. Each amino acid has an amino group, a carboxyl group, and a side chain labeled R or R'. Upon formation of a peptide bond, the amino group is joined to the carboxyl group. A water molecule is released in the process.
A peptide bond links the carboxyl end of one amino acid with the amino end of another, expelling one water molecule. For simplicity in this image, only the functional groups involved in the peptide bond are shown. The R and R' designations refer to the rest of each amino acid structure.

The protein synthesis machinery

In addition to the mRNA template, many molecules and macromolecules contribute to the process of translation. The composition of each component may vary across species; for instance, ribosomes may consist of different numbers of rRNAs and polypeptides depending on the organism. However, the general structures and functions of the protein synthesis machinery are comparable from bacteria to human cells. Translation requires the input of an mRNA template, ribosomes, tRNAs, and various enzymatic factors.

Click through the steps of this PBS interactive to see protein synthesis in action.

Ribosomes

Even before an mRNA is translated, a cell must invest energy to build each of its ribosomes. In E. coli , there are between 10,000 and 70,000 ribosomes present in each cell at any given time. A ribosome is a complex macromolecule composed of structural and catalytic rRNAs, and many distinct polypeptides. In eukaryotes, the nucleolus is completely specialized for the synthesis and assembly of rRNAs.

Ribosomes exist in the cytoplasm in prokaryotes and in the cytoplasm and rough endoplasmic reticulum in eukaryotes. Mitochondria and chloroplasts also have their own ribosomes in the matrix and stroma, which look more similar to prokaryotic ribosomes (and have similar drug sensitivities) than the ribosomes just outside their outer membranes in the cytoplasm. Ribosomes dissociate into large and small subunits when they are not synthesizing proteins and reassociate during the initiation of translation. In E. coli , the small subunit is described as 30S, and the large subunit is 50S, for a total of 70S (recall that Svedberg units are not additive). Mammalian ribosomes have a small 40S subunit and a large 60S subunit, for a total of 80S. The small subunit is responsible for binding the mRNA template, whereas the large subunit sequentially binds tRNAs. Each mRNA molecule is simultaneously translated by many ribosomes, all synthesizing protein in the same direction: reading the mRNA from 5' to 3' and synthesizing the polypeptide from the N terminus to the C terminus. The complete mRNA/poly-ribosome structure is called a polysome    .

Questions & Answers

what is the meaning of biology
Dorathy Reply
what is chromosomes?
Mabiya Reply
it is a cell structure that contains DNA histones protein and other structural proteins
Ekechi
what is liver
Hassan Reply
liver is an organ in the body that meterbolise nutrients and produce bile.
Ekechi
what is the function of granum?
Gulfam
What is biology
Eric Reply
Biology is you
muayad
Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and. evolution
Suzette
biology is the study of living things and none living things
Ekechi
The mamalian endoskeleton has 206 bones
kaazim Reply
hii
Hannah
hi
Suzette
how you
Hannah
good thanks
Suzette
have you done the actual course?
Suzette
How many bones do human body have?
moses Reply
I don't know please help me
Kisito
206
Waneh
206
Moses
206
anji
what are these geneti materials
ONELIA Reply
Name five parts of female reproductive system and state the function of each part
Angel Reply
What is biology
Angel
What is biology
Angel
biology is the study of all living organisms
ketchem
Ok
Angel
Name five parts of female reproductive system and state the function of each part
Angel
What is the meaning of respiration
Idriss Reply
the act or process of breathing .
Suzette
the process is very long as I know
Idriss
do you want more details ?
Suzette
yes offcourse
Smiso
what does the term diploid and haploid mean?
ONELIA
what is virgina
Shebas Reply
A female reproductive organs
Julius
fuvu LA binadam linamifupa mingapi?
Hamis Reply
explain dicot n monocot plant
Henry Reply
Di= 2cotiledon mono=cotiledon
muayad
Mono = 1 cotiledon
muayad
what is virginia
Shebas
A Virginia is a part of a female ,the passage of a child during child birth, receiver of the penis and the passage of menstral flow
Idriss
what is biology
Hassan Reply
what is liver
Hassan
Biology is the study of living organisms
Gifty
is the study of life of living organisms
Chansa
study all about organisms like their reproduction, evolution , behaviour Physiology, etc
Ubaid
this is what we call "life"@
Chansa
is the study of living organisms on earth
okubasu
It is the study of living organism
Idriss
Biology is the study of all living organisms
ketchem
what is copulation
ketchem
metabolism is the anabolic and catabolic process of how food are broken from large molecules into smaller soluble molecules.
Prince Reply
what is Metabolism
Nakagolo Reply
Metabolism are all chemical reaction that takes place inside cells including those that takes energy and realise energy
Idriss

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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