Diffusion of tRNA inside the ribosome is position-dependent
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In recent years, there has been a growing interest to quantify the energy landscape that governs ribosome dynamics. However, in order to quantitatively integrate theoretical predictions and experimental measurements, it is essential that one has a detailed understanding of the associated diffusive properties. Here, all-atom explicit-solvent simulations (50 μs of aggregate sampling) predict that the diffusion coefficient of a tRNA molecule will depend on its position within the ribosome. Specifically, during aa-tRNA accommodation (i.e., the process by which tRNA enters the ribosome), the apparent diffusion coefficient decreases by approximately an order of magnitude. By comparing these to values obtained with an energetically smooth model, we show that the observed nonuniform behavior likely arises from electrostatic and solvation interactions between the tRNA and ribosome. These calculations also reveal the hierarchical character of ribosomal energetics, where steric interactions induce a large-scale free-energy barrier, and short-scale roughness determines the rate of diffusive movement across the landscape.