Mechanical forces acting on biological systems, at both the macroscopic and microscopic levels, play an important part in shaping cellular phenotypes. There is a growing realization that biomolecules that respond to force directly applied to them, or via mechano-sensitive signalling pathways, can produce profound changes to not only transcriptional pathways, but also in protein translation. Forces naturally occurring at the molecular level can impact the rate at which the bacterial ribosome translates messenger RNA (mRNA) transcripts and influence processes such as co-translational folding of a nascent protein as it exits the ribosome. In eukaryotes, force can also be transduced at the cellular level by the cytoskeleton, the cell’s internal filamentous network. The cytoskeleton closely associates with components of the translational machinery such as ribosomes and elongation factors and, as such, is a crucial determinant of localized protein translation. In this review we will give (1) a brief overview of protein translation in bacteria and eukaryotes and then discuss (2) how mechanical forces are directly involved with ribosomes during active protein synthesis and (3) how eukaryotic ribosomes and other protein translation machinery intimately associates with the mechanosensitive cytoskeleton network.
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