'Starting protein synthesis: How ribosomes initiate on mRNA'

Venki Ramakrishnan has a long-standing interest in ribosome structure and function. In 2000, his laboratory determined the atomic structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit and its complexes with ligands and antibiotics. This work has led to insights into how the ribosome “reads” the genetic code, as well as into various aspects of antibiotic function. In the last twenty years, Ramakrishan’s lab has determined the high-resolution structures of functional complexes of the entire ribosome at various stages along the translational pathway, which has led to insights into its role in protein synthesis during decoding, peptidyl transfer, translocation and termination. More recently his laboratory has been applying cryoelectron microscopy to study eukaryotic and mitochondrial translation. Since 1999, he has been on the scientific staff of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.