Stevenson AL, Juanes PP, McCarthy JE. Elucidating mechanistic principles underpinning eukaryotic translation initiation using quantitative fluorescence methods. Biochem Soc Trans. 2010 Dec;38(6):1587-92. doi: 10.1042/BST0381587.


Eukaryotic translation initiation is an intricate process involving at least 11 formally classified eIFs (eukaryotic initiation factors), which, together with the ribosome, comprise one of the largest molecular machines in the cell. Studying such huge macromolecular complexes presents many challenges which cannot readily be overcome by traditional molecular and structural methods. Increasingly, novel quantitative techniques are being used to further dissect such complex assembly pathways. One area of methodology involves the labelling of ribosomal subunits and/or eIFs with fluorophores and the use of techniques such as FRET (Förster resonance energy transfer) and FA (fluorescence anisotropy). The applicability of such techniques in such a complex system has been greatly enhanced by recent methodological developments. In the present mini-review, we introduce these quantitative fluorescence methods and discuss the impact they are beginning to have on the field.

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