Together with RPL4, RPL22 forms the narrowest constriction of the ribosomal exit tunnel (the grove through which a growing protein chain exits the ribosome), and consequently mutations in RPL22 are believed to alter the efficiency with which protein synthesis proceeds.
The gene may play a role in Insect toxicity resistance. In culex mosquitos, it was one of several ribosomal proteins which were overexpressed in strains resistant to the insecticide deltamethrin. More focused analysis revealed that resistant mosquitoes expressed RPL22 at a level more than 2.5x higher than susceptible strains; however, the same study found that over-expression of RPL22 in transfected cells caused a down-regulation of a different deltamethrin-resistance gene (CYP6A1) and made these cells overall less resistant to the insecticide. Less ambiguously, multiple studies indicate that mutations in RPL22 confer erythromycin resistance on E. coli bacteria.
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