In all organisms, mRNA-directed protein synthesis is catalysed by ribosomes. Although the basic aspects of translation are preserved in all kingdoms of life, important differences are found in the process of translation initiation, which is rate-limiting and the most important step for translation regulation. While great strides had been taken towards a complete structural understanding of the initiation of translation in eubacteria, our understanding of the eukaryotic process, which includes numerous eukaryotic-specific initiation factors, was until recently limited owing to a lack of structural information. In this review, we discuss recent results in the field that provide an increasingly complete molecular description of the eukaryotic initiation process. The structural snapshots obtained using a range of methods now provide insights into the architecture of the initiation complex, start-codon recognition by the initiator tRNA and the process of subunit joining. Future advances will require both higher-resolution insights into previously characterized complexes and mapping of initiation factors that control translation on an additional level by interacting only peripherally or transiently with ribosomal subunits.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Perspectives on the ribosome’.
One contribution of 11 to a theme issue ‘Perspectives on the ribosome’.
- Accepted November 16, 2016.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.