Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: Ribosome structure function – WorldOfChemicals

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: Mapper of the structure of the ribosome

Category : Personalities
Published by : Data Research Analyst,

Biography & Contributions

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan is a British American chemist, physicist and structural biologist of Indian origin. He was born in 1952. Ramakrishnan is best known for his Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 along with Ada E. Yonath and Thomas A. Steitz for their research on the structure and function of the ribosome. He is the recipient of Padma Vibhushan in 2010, which is India’s second highest civilian award.


Ramakrishnan is renowned globally for his research work on the atomic structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit. In the beginning, he had represented the layout of proteins in the 30S ribosomal subunit through neutron diffraction and explained X-ray structures of the components and their RNA complexes. Ramakrishnan found the silver lining for his research work through the crystallographic studies of the whole 30S ribosomal subunit.


The atomic structure comprised of 1500 bases of RNA and 20 associated proteins. The prospective mechanisms of action of many clinically significant antibiotics were established through the identification of interactions of RNA representing the P-site tRNA and the mRNA binding site. The 30S ribosomal subunit structure led to a series of follow up studies on antibiotics as well as ligand binding. This led to a better understanding of how the ribosome ensures the precision of translation during the decoding process of the genetic message. His studies on decoding continue to this day in the context of the whole ribosome. He has also made considerable contributions to understanding how chromatin is organized, specifically the structure of linker histones and their function in higher order folding.


What is RNA? What are its types?

RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, which stores and transmits genetic information crucial for the synthesis of protein in living cells. 


The three main types of RNA are mRNA, tRNA and rRNA.

• mRNA - Messenger RNA: Encrypts amino acid sequence of a polypeptide.

• tRNA - Transfer RNA: Carries amino acids to ribosomes during translation.

• rRNA - Ribosomal RNA: Makes up the ribosomes along with ribosomal proteins, the cell structures that translate the mRNA.


The other types are gRNA, siRNA, miRNA, sRNA, piwi RNA, telomerase RNA component, etc. 


Structure of RNA

RNA is a single stranded molecule unlike DNA, which is double-stranded. RNA is composed of a helix of sugar phosphates along with the chain of base pairs. The sugar-phosphate forms the backbone of RNA that contains ribose to which a hydroxyl group is connected to the pentose ring in the 2’ position. The four main base pairs of RNA are Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Uracil. Among this Adenine and Guanine are purines and Cytosine and Uracil are pyrimidines. Purines and pyrimidines together form base pairs. At the molecular level, purines have two carbon-nitrogen ring bases in their structure, whereas pyrimidines have one carbon-nitrogen ring bases in their structure.