This month, we find the C-Trap® featured in Nature Communications in an article published by the lab of Dr. Joanna Rorbach in which they describe mitochondrial translation initiation.
The study provides insight into a relatively unexplored, yet exciting field that investigates the properties of mitochondrial ribosomes (mitoribosomes) during translation. Understanding this process can assist the development of treatment strategies in mitigating aging and several diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
Khawaja et al. used the C-Trap to evaluate how mitochondrial mRNA binds to mitoribosomes. The correlated optical tweezers and fluorescence microscopy system enabled them to expose a captured DNA–RNA hybrid to fluorescently labeled ribosome units and subsequently visualize their interaction through confocal imaging.
Measurements showed that interaction between an individual mitochondrial mRNA end and a mitoribosome required a start codon and both ribosomal subunits (small and large).
By applying different complementary methods, including cryogenic electron microscopy, fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy, and single-molecule analysis with the C-Trap, the researchers could explore the non-canonical translation of mitochondria and extract both structural and functional information. The study may pave the way for a better understanding of poorly known mitochondrial processes associated with several chronic diseases and aging.
Congratulations to Dr. Joanna Rorbach at Karolinska Institutet, her lab, and all the authors involved in this work!
For more information, read the full article published in the journal Nature Communications titled “Distinct pre-initiation steps in human mitochondrial translation”.