Molecular mechanism and structure of Trigger Factor bound to the translating ribosome

Frieder Merz, Daniel Boehringer, Christiane Schaffitzel, Steffen Preissler, Anja Hoffmann, Timm Maier, Anna Rutkowska, Jasmin Lozza, Nenad Ban, Bernd Bukau, Elke Deuerling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


Ribosome-associated chaperone Trigger Factor (TF) initiates folding of newly synthesized proteins in bacteria. Here, we pinpoint by site-specific crosslinking the sequence of molecular interactions of Escherichia coli TF and nascent chains during translation. Furthermore, we provide the first full-length structure of TF associated with ribosome-nascent chain complexes by using cryo-electron microscopy. In its active state, TF arches over the ribosomal exit tunnel accepting nascent chains in a protective void. The growing nascent chain initially follows a predefined path through the entire interior of TF in an unfolded conformation, and even after folding into a domain it remains accommodated inside the protective cavity of ribosome-bound TF. The adaptability to accept nascent chains of different length and folding states may explain how TF is able to assist co-translational folding of all kinds of nascent polypeptides during ongoing synthesis. Moreover, we suggest a model of how TF's chaperoning function can be coordinated with the co-translational processing and membrane targeting of nascent polypeptides by other ribosome-associated factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1622-32
Number of pages11
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2008


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Peptides
  • Peptidylprolyl Isomerase
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Ribosomes


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