A reconstruction, at 40 A, of the Escherichia coli ribosome imaged by cryo-electron microscopy, obtained from 303 projections by a single-particle method of reconstruction, shows the two subunits with unprecedented clarity. In the interior of the subunits, a complex distribution of higher mass density is recognized, which is attributed to ribosomal RNA. The masses corresponding to the 16S and 23S components are linked in the region of the platform of the small subunit. Thus the topography of the rRNA regions responsible for protein synthesis can be described.

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