Frontiers of Science: Exposing molecular transformers in organelles at atomic resolution by cryo-EM


September 6, 2018    
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


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Dr. Alexey Amunts, Stockholm University, Sweden

Host: Paula Mulo (


Dr Alexey Amunts has focused on the fundamental question of how proteins are synthesized, folded and assembled into functional multicomponent membrane complexes that drive the cellular energy production by applying cryo-EM visualisation of bioenergetic complexes.

The research group of Dr. Amunts has determined cryo-EM structures of the human mitoribosome with mRNA, tRNAs and translation activators in 8 different functional states, and they have revealed unique mechanisms of mRNA binding, tRNA translocation and assembly regulation. They have also determined structures of the chlororibosome with translation factors that revealed divarication of the exit tunnel and experimental evidence for convergent evolution of ribosomes from chloroplasts and mitochondria. These studies showed that protein synthesis machineries in organelles have adopted intricate compositions and unique tasks, adding incredible complexity to the records. The achieved understanding of the architecture of these specialized systems provides now a framework to study even more sophisticated questions regarding the assembly and evolution mechanisms of the critical bioenergetic membranes that fuel life.


Selected publications

Boerema AP, Aibara S, Paul B, Tobiasson V, Kimanius D, Forsberg BO, Wallden K, Lindahl E, Amunts A. (2018) Structure of the chloroplast ribosome with chl-RRF and hibernation-promoting factor. Nat Plants. 4: 212-217.

Rorbach J, Aibara S, Amunts A. (2018) Ribosome origami. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 24: 879-881

Matzov D, Aibara S, Basu A, Zimmerman E, Bashan A, Yap MF, Amunts A, Yonath AE. (2017) The cryo-EM structure of hibernating 100S ribosome dimer from pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus. Nat Commun. 8 :723

Brown A, Rathore S, Kimanius D, Aibara S, Bai XC, Rorbach J, Amunts A, Ramakrishnan V. (2017) Structures of the human mitochondrial ribosome in native states of assembly. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 24: 866-869.

Desai N, Brown A, Amunts A, Ramakrishnan V. (2017) The structure of the yeast mitochondrial ribosome. Science. 355: 528-531.

Ott M, Amunts A, Brown A. (2016) Organization and Regulation of Mitochondrial Protein Synthesis. Annu Rev Biochem. 85: 77-101.

De Silva D, Tu YT, Amunts A, Fontanesi F, Barrientos A. (2015) Mitochondrial ribosome assembly in health and disease. Cell Cycle. 14: 2226-50.

Amunts A, Brown A, Toots J, Scheres SHW, Ramakrishnan V. (2015) Ribosome. The structure of the human mitochondrial ribosome. Science. 348: 95-98.

Amunts A, Fiedorczuk K, Truong TT, Chandler J, Peter Greenberg E, Ramakrishnan V. (2015) Bactobolin A binds to a site on the 70S ribosome distinct from previously seen antibiotics. J Mol Biol. 427:753-5.

Brown A, Amunts A, Bai XC, Sugimoto Y, Edwards PC, Murshudov G, Scheres SHW, Ramakrishnan V. (2014) Structure of the large ribosomal subunit from human mitochondria. Science. 346: 718-722.