NAMD, VMD, and a method called flexible fitting (MDFF, see the June 2008 highlight). It was known that a third molecular system is involved, called the elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu), which generates a key signal to the ribosome and transfer RNA through a chemical reaction. This reaction involves chemically attacking a substrate of EF-Tu, the molecule guanosine-triphosphate (GTP), with water, breaking a bond and turning GTP into guanosine-diphosphate (GDP). The puzzle was that EF-Tu is far away from the decoding center. The collaboration between experiment and simulation, reported here, revealed that "correct recognition" through anticodon-codon binding opens a gate in the EF-Tu that allows water access to the GTP inducing the signaling reaction. The finding promises to now establish how the decision at the decoding center is made and how an "open sesame" order is transmitted to EF-Tu. More on our ribosome website.
Elizabeth Villa, Jayati Sengupta, Leonardo G. Trabuco, Jamie LeBarron, William T. Baxter, Tanvir R. Shaikh, Robert A. Grassucci, Poul Nissen, Måns Ehrenberg, Klaus Schulten, and Joachim Frank. Ribosome-induced changes in elongation factor Tu conformation control GTP hydrolysis.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 106:1063-1068, 2009.