Ribosome heterogeneity in stem cells and development

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Translation control is critical to regulate protein expression. By directly adjusting protein levels, cells can quickly respond to dynamic transitions during stem cell differentiation and embryonic development. Ribosomes are multisubunit cellular assemblies that mediate translation. Previously seen as invariant machines with the same composition of components in all conditions, recent studies indicate that ribosomes are heterogeneous and that different ribosome types can preferentially translate specific subsets of mRNAs. Such heterogeneity and specialized translation functions are very important in stem cells and development, as they allow cells to quickly respond to stimuli through direct changes of protein abundance. In this review, we discuss ribosome heterogeneity that arises from multiple features of rRNAs, including rRNA variants and rRNA modifications, and ribosomal proteins, including their stoichiometry, compositions, paralogues, and posttranslational modifications. We also discuss alterations of ribosome-associated proteins (RAPs), with a particular focus on their consequent specialized translational control in stem cells and development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202001108
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020


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