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FEATURE ARTICLE

How the Ribosome Works

For over 40 years, scientists have studied the machine that synthesizes proteins. Yet, until recently, no one had "seen" the ribosome with any great clarity

Joachim Frank

The ribosome, the cellular "factory" at which proteins are made, was discovered over 45 years ago. Since then, this structure has kept its own scientific research community of some 1,000 people busy around the world. Yet, in spite of all of the interest, no one has "seen" the ribosome with any clarity. Our author describes his own successful efforts to produce the highest resolution reconstruction of the ribosome ever. Joachim Frank describes the technique that has produced these images and describes how it might be useful for other cellular structures of similar complexity. What’s more, Frank uses his technique to see how ribosome works, and his findings confirm previous biochemical studies that alter the most fundamental understanding of the division of labor among biomolecules.


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