Synthesis and function of ribosomal proteins - fading models and new perspectives

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The synthesis of ribosomal proteins (RPs) has long been known to be a process strongly linked to the growth status of the cell. In vertebrates, this coordination is dependent on RP mRNA translational efficiency, which changes according to physiological circumstances. Despite many years of investigation, the trans-acting factors and the signaling pathways involved in this regulation are still elusive. At the same time, however, new techniques and classic approaches have opened up new perspectives as regards RP regulation and function. In fact, the proteasome seems to play a crucial and unpredicted role in regulating the availability of RPs for subunit assembly. In addition, the study of human ribosomal pathologies and animal models for these diseases has revealed that perturbation in the synthesis and/or function of an RP activates a p53-dependent stress response. Surprisingly, the effect of the ribosomal stress is more dramatic in specific physiological processes: hemopoiesis in humans, and pigmentation in mice. Moreover, alteration of each RP impacts differently on the development of an organism.

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