What Is the Function of a Polysome?

Responsible for relaying part of the DNA information needed for cell reproduction, polysomes are complex clusters of ribosomes that are attached to a single strand of RNA. They are also called polyribosomes and ergosomes and are located within the cytoplasm of cells.

Discovered by Jonathan Warner, Paul Knopf and Alex Rich in 1963, polysomes look like circular clusters under a microscope due to the twisting nature of RNA. They come in several forms including free, membrane bound and cytoskeletal bound. When they are free, polysomes float in the cytoplasm of the cell. Membrane bound polysomes are attached to the surface of membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum and cell nucleus.

Polysomes play a major role in protein synthesis, which is the process in which amino acids are linearly arranged into proteins according to DNA sequence. This process also involves the translation of the sequence and the duplication necessary to create new cells. Because all cells contain DNA, protein synthesis occurs in each and every cell of the body.

Protein synthesis, also called peptide synthesis, must occur in every cell in order to reproduce that cell and sustain life. If any part of the genetic code becomes damaged, the cells created from the code will be damaged as well.