The translation elongation cycle adds one amino acid at a time to a growing polypeptide according to the sequence of codons found in the mRNA. The next available codon on the mRNA is exposed in the aminoacyl-tRNA (aa-tRNA) binding site (A site) on the 30S subunit.
A: Ternary complexes of aa -tRNA:eEF1A:GTP enter the ribosome and enable the anticodon of the tRNA to make a codon/anticodon interaction with the A-site codon of the mRNA. B: Upon cognate recognition, the eEF1A:GTP is brought into the GTPase activating center of the ribosome, GTP is hydrolyzed and eEF1A:GDP leaves the ribosome. C: The peptidyl transferase center of ribosome catalyses the formation of a peptide bond between the incoming amino acid and the peptide found in the peptidyl-tRNA binding site (P site). D: In the pre-translocation state of the ribosome, the eEF2:GTP enters the ribosome, physically translocating the peptidyl-tRNA out of the A site to P site and leaves the ribosome eEF2:GDP. This action of eEF2:GTP accounts for the precise movement of the mRNA by 3 nucleotides.Consequently, deacylated tRNA is shifted to the E site. A ribosome associated ATPase activity is proposed to stimulate the release of deacylated tRNA from the E site subsequent to translocation (Elskaya et al., 1991). In this post-translocation state, the ribosome is now ready to receive a new ternary complex.
This process is illustrated below with: an amino acyl-tRNA with an amino acid, a peptidyl-tRNA with a growing peptide, a deacylated tRNA with an -OH, and a ribosome with A,P and E sites to accommodate these three forms of tRNA.