ID #1188

I am confused as to what purpose the initiation factors serve.

Sometimes, molecules that are destined to be in a particular location need help "sitting down." Eukaryotic RNA polymerases, for example, need a set of transcription factors to be in place before they will fit into position and begin transcription. In translation, ultimately a large subunit and small subunit will come together to form a ribosome. But you don't want this randomly happening in the cytoplasm when they don't have a mRNA to read. So the large and small subunits don't "fit" together very well initially. They need help, and that help comes from Initiation Factors (IFs). Only when a small subunit has associated with a mRNA will IFs bind, and this is the signal that it's "ok" for the large subunit to join the party.

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