Ribosome biogenesis

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Ribosome biogenesis is the process of making ribosomes. In prokaryotic cells, it takes place in the cytoplasm with the transcription of many ribosome gene operons. In eukaryotes, it takes place both in the cytoplasm and in the nucleolus. It involves the coordinated function of over 200 proteins in the synthesis and processing of the three prokaryotic or four eukaryotic rRNAs, as well as assembly of those rRNAs with the ribosomal proteins.

In prokaryotes[edit]

There are 52 genes that encode the ribosomal proteins and they can be found in 20 operons within prokaryotic DNA. Regulation of ribosome synthesis hinges on the regulation of the rRNA itself.

First, a reduction in aminoacyl-tRNA will cause the prokaryotic cell to respond by lowering transcription and translation. This occurs through a series of steps, beginning with stringent factor binding to ribosomes and catalyzing the reaction:
GTP + ATP --> pppGpp + AMP
The γ-phosphate is then removed and ppGpp will bind to and inhibit RNA polymerase. This binding causes a reduction in rRNA transcription. A reduced amount of rRNA means that ribosomal proteins (r-proteins) will be translated but will not have an rRNA to bind to. Instead, they will negatively feedback and bind to their own mRNA, repressing r-protein synthesis. Note that r-proteins preferentially bind to its complementary rRNA if it is present, rather than mRNA.

The ribosome operons also include the genes for RNA polymerase and elongation factors (used in RNA translation). Regulation of all of these genes at once illustrate the coupling between transcription and translation in prokaryotes.

In eukaryotes[edit]

Ribosomal protein synthesis in eukaryotes is a major metabolic activity. It occurs, like most protein synthesis, in the cytoplasm just outside the nucleus. Individual ribosomal proteins are synthesized and imported into the nucleus through nuclear pores. These pores have a diameter of 120 nm and import 560,000[citation needed] ribosomal proteins per minute into the nucleus with active transport. See nuclear import for more about the movement of the ribosomal proteins into the nucleus.

The rRNA is transcribed, at a high speed, at the nucleolus, which contains all 45S rRNA genes. The only exception is the 5S rRNA which is transcribed outside the nucleolus. After transcription, the rRNAs associate with the ribosomal proteins, forming the two types of ribosomal subunits (large and small). These will later assemble in the cytosol to make a functioning ribosome. See nuclear export for more about the movement of the ribosomal subunits out of the nucleus. [1]


  1. ^ Lafontaine, Denis L.J. "A ‘garbage can’ for ribosomes: how eukaryotes degrade their ribosomes". Retrieved 7 December 2012.