Behold the Mesmerizing Beauty of Protein Synthesis

Jonathan McLatchie

Protein Synthesis from Vuk Nikolic on Vimeo.

In recent years, molecular animations have allowed us — for the first time — to peek inside the world of the cell and observe the elegant beauty of its immensely sophisticated information storage, processing and retrieval systems. The more that we learn about the intricate detail of the machinery, the more the design implications become apparent.

I recently came across this stunning animation of the protein synthesis apparatus, showing the ribosome translating the mRNA transcript and the tRNAs carrying each respective amino acid and adding it to the elongating polypeptide. Also shown are the prokaryote elongation factors Tu and G, the former assisting the aminoacyl tRNA’s entry into the ribosome and its binding to the A site; the latter catalyzing tRNA and mRNA translocation after each round of polypeptide elongation. The animation also highlights the prokaryote initiation factors IF-1, IF-2 and IF-3. These initiation factors play an important role in the formation of the initiation complex.

As you can see, the machinery involved in protein manufacture is extremely sophisticated and complex. It bears a striking resemblance to engineered technology, only this system operates on a nano scale and far exceeds the brightest accomplishments of human technology.