The cryo-EM structure of a complete 30S translation initiation complex from Escherichia coli

Patricia Julián, Pohl Milon, Xabier Agirrezabala, Gorka Lasso, David Gil, Marina V. Rodnina, Mikel Valle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Formation of the 30S initiation complex (30S IC) is an important checkpoint in regulation of gene expression. The selection of mRNA, correct start codon, and the initiator fMet-tRNA fMet requires the presence of three initiation factors (IF1, IF2, IF3) of which IF3 and IF1 control the fidelity of the process, while IF2 recruits fMet-tRNA fMet. Here we present a cryo-EM reconstruction of the complete 30S IC, containing mRNA, fMet-tRNA fMet, IF1, IF2, and IF3. In the 30S IC, IF2 contacts IF1, the 30S subunit shoulder, and the CCA end of fMet-tRNA fMet, which occupies a novel P/I position (P/I1). The N-terminal domain of IF3 contacts the tRNA, whereas the C-terminal domain is bound to the platform of the 30S subunit. Binding of initiation factors and fMet-tRNA fMet induces a rotation of the head relative to the body of the 30S subunit, which is likely to prevail through 50S subunit joining until GTP hydrolysis and dissociation of IF2 take place. The structure provides insights into the mechanism of mRNA selection during translation initiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001095
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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