The Structure of the Ribosome

The ribosome is one of the most abundant organelles in the cell: a single bacterial cell may contain as many as 20,000 ribosomes, and eukaryotic cells possess even more. Ribo-somes typically contain about 80% of the total cellular RNA. They are complex organelles, each consisting of more than 50 different proteins and RNA molecules (Table 14.3) A functional ribosome consists of two subunits, a large subunit and a small subunit, each of which consists of one or more pieces of RNA and a number of proteins. The sizes of the ribosomes and their RNA components are given in Sved-berg (S) units (a measure of how rapidly an object sediments in a centrifugal field). It is important to note that Svedberg units are not additive; in other words, combining a 10S

Table 14.3

Composition of ribosomes in bacterial and eukaryotic cells


Cell Type

Ribosome Size




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