I'm taking a molecular genetics course, and we're currently discussing prokaryotic operons. The lacZ operon came up frequently for me as an undergraduate as an example for teaching regulatory control of transcription, and the focus was always on determining whether the operon was transcribed under certain conditions (mutations, nutrients, etc). I don't remember much discussion about what happens after transcription. Today, however, I noticed something I had never seen before: three of the genes in the lacZ operon are transcribed simultaneously on the same transcript--I don't know how I missed this before!
My question is what happens post-transcription. Obviously there are 3 protein products. How are these products derived from the transcript? Is the transcript broken into 3 pieces, or does a single ribosome translate all 3 proteins from a single transcript substrate, or do ribosomes translate a single protein from a single transcript substrate at a time? Where could I find the relevant literature that elucidated the translation process?