I created this piece with Maya, molecular Maya, After Effects and Illustrator. This was an exercise in learning more about molecular Maya and nParticles, and to create an informative molecular visualization using real data. The 70S ribosome exists in prokaryotes (i.e. bacteria and archaebacteria) and also in mitochondria. The two subunits clamp around a piece of mRNA and proceed to translate the genetic information into a growing polypeptide chain, reading from 5′ to 3′. Interestingly, the ribosomal RNA, or rRNA provides the catalytic function of the ribosome, rather than the protein components. The exploded view in the image includes a slightly longer polypeptide chain, since this “second” ribosome has translated more of the mRNA. This polypetide is beginning to fold, although this is artist’s representation, and I believe that folding (such as formation of alpha helices) actually begins in the exit tunnel within the 50S subunit.
Click the image for a larger view.
More information and images on ribosomes can be found here: http://rcsb.org/pdb/101/motm.do?momID=121