• Co-translational protein folding;
  • Co-translational protein modifications;
  • Kinetics of translation;
  • Nascent polypeptide chain;
  • Synonymous codon usage


The journey of nascent polypeptides from synthesis at the peptidyl transferase center of the ribosome (“birth”) to full function (“maturity”) involves multiple interactions, constraints, modifications and folding events. Each step of this journey impacts the ultimate expression level and functional capacity of the translated protein. It has become clear that the kinetics of protein translation is predominantly modulated by synonymous codon usage along the mRNA, and that this provides an active mechanism for coordinating the synthesis, maturation and folding of nascent polypeptides. Multiple quality control systems ensure that proteins achieve their native, functional form. Unproductive co-translational folding intermediates that arise during protein synthesis may undergo enhanced interaction with components of these systems, such as chaperones, and/or be subjects of co-translational degradation (“death”). This review provides an overview of our current understanding of the complex co-translational events that accompany the synthesis, maturation, folding and degradation of nascent polypeptide chains.