Nucleic Acids Res. 51 (7) 3436-3451 [2023-04-24; online 2023-03-14]
Giardia intestinalis is a protozoan parasite that causes diarrhea in humans. Using single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, we have determined high-resolution structures of six naturally populated translocation intermediates, from ribosomes isolated directly from actively growing Giardia cells. The highly compact and uniquely GC-rich Giardia ribosomes possess eukaryotic rRNAs and ribosomal proteins, but retain some bacterial features. The translocation intermediates, with naturally bound tRNAs and eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2), display characteristic ribosomal intersubunit rotation and small subunit's head swiveling-universal for translocation. In addition, we observe the eukaryote-specific 'subunit rolling' dynamics, albeit with limited features. Finally, the eEF2·GDP state features a uniquely positioned 'leaving phosphate (Pi)' that proposes hitherto unknown molecular events of Pi and eEF2 release from the ribosome at the final stage of translocation. In summary, our study elucidates the mechanism of translocation in the protists and illustrates evolution of the translation machinery from bacteria to eukaryotes from both the structural and mechanistic perspectives.