Elife 9 (-) 1-17 [2020-08-19; online 2020-08-19]
Translation of mitochondrial messenger RNA (mt-mRNA) is performed by distinct mitoribosomes comprising at least 36 mitochondria-specific proteins. How these mitoribosomal proteins assist in the binding of mt-mRNA and to what extent they are involved in the translocation of transfer RNA (mt-tRNA) is unclear. To visualize the process of translation in human mitochondria, we report ~3.0 Å resolution structure of the human mitoribosome, including the L7/L12 stalk, and eight structures of its functional complexes with mt-mRNA, mt-tRNAs, recycling factor and additional trans factors. The study reveals a transacting protein module LRPPRC-SLIRP that delivers mt-mRNA to the mitoribosomal small subunit through a dedicated platform formed by the mitochondria-specific protein mS39. Mitoribosomal proteins of the large subunit mL40, mL48, and mL64 coordinate translocation of mt-tRNA. The comparison between those structures shows dynamic interactions between the mitoribosome and its ligands, suggesting a sequential mechanism of conformational changes.