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Ribosome research

Ribosome research

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Published by: Alexander Martin on Feb 02, 2011
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It is commonly known that ribosomes are ribonucleoprotein machines that catalyze translation of mRNA to synthesize proteins in a cell (Staley

, JP and Woolford, JL Jr., 2009). Much remains to be discovered, however, about the complex origin(s), or biogenesis, of the ribosome. The key steps in ribosome synthesis are: transcription of the pre-rRNA; covalent modification of the mature rRNA regions of the pre-rRNA; processing of the pre-rRNA to the mature rRNAs; and assembly of the rRNAs with the ribosomal subunits (LaFontaine and Tollervey, 2001). Specifically in eukaryotes additional steps include the import of r-proteins from the cytoplasm to the nucleus and the export of the ribosomal subunits from the nucleolus through the nucleoplasm and nuclear pore complexes to the cytoplasm (Lafontaine, D. and Tollervey, D., 2001). Verily, in eukaryotic cells the bulk of this activity is carried out in the nucleolus, especially in the GC region, where the ribosomal proteins are assembled and exported to the cytoplasm as ribosomal subunits (Boisvert, F.M. et al. 2007). There is much evidence to suggest even that in eukaryotic cells the nucleolar integrity is preferentially maintained by transcription of rRNA genes and thus ribosomes and the nucleolus arise co-dependently of one another through the process of ribosome biogenesis (Melese and Xue, 1995; Bartova, E. et al 2010). It seems fitting then that an apt accounting of the process of eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis would come from a more accurate characterization of the form, function, and interactions of the nucleolar region in said process. Indeed a more complete understanding of the nucleolar role in ribosome biogenesis has far reaching implications, especially in the medical field, where disruptions in nucleolar activity are being shown to correlate directly to the proliferation

The FCs and the DFC are embedded in the GC and the most contrasted structures in the EM sections stained with uranyl and lead correspond to high concentrations of nucleic acids. while later processing steps and assembly of ribosomes are performed in the granular component (GC) (Boisvert.. 2007). J. et al. 2010). processed and assembled with the 80 ribosomal proteins and the 5S RNA to form the small 40S ribosomal subunits and the large 60S subunits that will eventually be exported to the cytoplasm (Gebrane-Younes et al. 2008). J. and initial cleavage of pre-rRNA take place within the fibrillar components (FC) and the surrounding dense fibrillar component (DFC).. 2005). Each nucleolus contains three morphologically distinct components which reflect the process of ribosome production (Ren. Ribosome biogenesis takes place in the nucleolus. Synthesis. while the condensed chromatin surrounding part of the nucleolus is visible using standard or preferential staining methods and also as a network within the nucleolus (Figure 1b) (Sirri. F. It also bears mentioning that the .. modification. et al. V. the 47s precursor ribosomal RNAs are cleaved.M. One should note that nucleoli of different cell types exhibit a variable number of FCs of different sizes: generally cells with a high rate of ribosome biogenesis possess numerous small FCs while cells with greatly reduced metabolic and transcription activities present small nucleoli with one large-sized FC (Sirri. 2008). these three main nucleolar compartments can be discerned in mammalian cells (see Figure 1) (Sirri. rDNAs are transcribed. et al. When observed using Electron Microscopy. V. 2010).of cancer cells in human beings and other animals.. 2008).. a specialized compartment within the nucleus (Ren. V. Here. et al. et al. et al.

which store the polymerase and other proteins . 2010). which is mediated by RNA Polymerase I. 2010). 1994. 2003). Bartova. et al. P. 2010). et al. Nucleolar export likely occurs by simple diffusion. 1982. and 28S rRNA (see Figure 2) (Bartova. 5. et al. et al. and that the nucleolus is duly subject to fissure over the course of mitosis. P. suggesting that motor proteins may be involved in the movement of preribosomal ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes through the nucleolus (Bartova. V. E. E. 2010). E. E. E. Bartova. 2008). et al. likely occurs at the border between the FC and the DFC (Hozak. as has been documented for 60S subunits (Politz et al. The DFC surrounds the fibrillar centre and the transcription of ribosomal genes.tripartite nucleolar organization is not general since the nucleoli of fruit flies and other insects lack FCs. Actin and Myosin I have been detected within the nucleoli. et al.8S. 1994. Nascent transcripts are then converted into the granular component where they complete their maturation from pre-ribosomal particles into synthesized ribosomal subunits. suggesting that in other eukaryotic cells these fibrillar centres may serve primarily as storage facilities (Knibiehler. et al. Being that the nucleolus constitutes the primary cellular location in which ribosome synthesis is carried out. Additionally. P. 2010). fibrillarin and nucleolin required for the synthesis of primary transcripts (Hozak.among them. ultimately to be transported along the skeleton to the cytoplasm (Hozak. where maturation of pre-RNA leads to the formation of 18S. the pre-rRNA accumulates in the DFC. During the next step of rRNA processing. Sirri. Analyses of HeLa Cells suggests the nucleolus is built around fibrillar centres. et al. et al. B. Bartova. 1994. it follows logically that the process of ribosome biogenesis is .

1998..ultimately regulated by the cell cycle. some post-translational modifications of the RNA polymerase I machinery are required for the formation of a productive preinitiation complex that would allow the transcription to resume once the mitotic block is relieved (Heix. 2008). In higher eukaryotic cells at the beginning of mitosis rDNA transcription is repressed. D. et al. V. and thus so does rRNA transcription (Heix. by virtue of the regulated synthesis of the rDNA from which rRNA transcription takes its instruction (Chen. How. stops as cells enter mitosis. J. It is firmly established that the presence of a fully active nucleolus depends on cell regulators (Sirri. V. Ribosome biogenesis is primarily regulated throughout the cell cycle at the level of rRNA synthesis. S. J. ). and Huang. rDNA transcription peaks during the S and G2 phases. Although most nucleolar proteins disperse throughout the mitotic cell. Sirri. to explain this apparently seamless re-initiation of the process? During mitosis. et al. they nevertheless assemble at the exit from mitosis concomitantly with restoration of rDNA transcription and are functionally active throughout interphase (Sirri. et al 2008). et al. 2001). nucleolar structure undergoes extensive changes. The selective retention of the pol I transcription apparatus could quite possibly be a regulatory mechanism that marks these genes for rapid assembly into pre-initiation complexes when cells re-enter . 1998). then. and Huang. J. all known basal factors required for transcription are maintained on metaphase chromosomes (Heix. 1998). 2001. D. V. and then reactivates as cells exit from mitosis into G1 (Chen. 2008). et al. Thus. and while the nucleoli disassemble and are no longer observed throughout mitosis. and RNA polymerase I transcriptional activity ceases almost completely. et al. S.

Sulic. and Ploton. et al. et al. As mentioned above.the G1 phase of the cell cycle (Heix. JL Jr.. 1991). in turn.. Increased ribosome biogenesis has been observed in all normal mammalian cells stimulated to proliferate as a result of higher biosynthetic demand characterizing cycling cells (Derenzini. This relationship exists in cancer cells in which changes in either tumor suppressor or proto-oncogenes. G. I. J. Volarevic.. is induced by an up-regulation of the rate of ribosome production. T. V. ribosomes catalyze translation of mRNA to synthesize proteins in a cell (Staley. S. 2008). 2005). cell proliferation appears to be closely coordinated with nucleolar function and mechanisms controlling cell proliferation appear to regulate the rate of ribosome biogenesis (Montanar. L. This concomitant structural necessity further serves to highlight the codependent origination of nucleolus and ribosome. Coming out of mitosis. M. et al. S. 2009). 1998). et al. JP and Woolford. In proliferating cells the amount of cell constituents must be increased to ensure that daughter cells have the necessary complement for survival and normal functioning (Conlon. et al 2000). Thomas. While it is reasonable to consider nucleolar structural- . 2006. as well as recruitment and reactivation of the pre-rRNA processing machinery (Sirri. D. 2008). As veritable sites of protein synthesis. reassembly of the nucleolus requires a reactivation of the rDNA transcription machinery. which are responsible for uncontrolled cell proliferation. Because this result is accomplished by increased synthesis of proteins that. thus increasing the cell growth rate according to the modified cell cycle progression rate (David-Pfeuty. ribosomes are inextricably linked to cell proliferation. also up-regulate ribosome biogenesis. therefore. et al. 1999. 2000.

On top of quantitative changes of ribosomes. L. 2008). et al. not coordinated with cell division may alter the translational mechanisms. qualitative ribosome modifications have also been found to be associated with an increased frequency of cancer development. the process of ribosome biogenesis in eukaryotes occurs. et al. translated in normal conditions (Monatanar. with . L. 2008). the most frequent gene alterations occurring in human tumors are responsible for up-regulation of the rRNA transcriptional activity (Montanar. 2008). with an increased quantity of ribosomes making it easier to translate those mRNA (whose product might be involved in tumorigenesis) but that were not. or to a lesser degree. Additionally. causing quantitative and qualitative in both ribosome biogenesis and the synthesis of specific proteins that control cell cycle progression. as ribosomes with an intrinsically altered translation capability might affect the balance of protein translation by favoring the synthesis of proteins that play an important role in neoplastic transformation (Montanar. are the consequence of the increased metabolic necessities that characterize proliferating cells (Montanar. 2008). In summation. et al. 2008). thus favoring cell proliferation and possibly tumorigenesis (Montanar. et al. L. widely observed in cancer tissues.functional changes in tumors as a mere consequence of both the proliferative activity of cancer cells and alterations of the mechanisms controlling cancer cell proliferation. Up-regulated ribosome biogenesis rate may well be responsible for changes in the balance of the translational process. L. some data has been produced that suggest an increased production of ribosomes. however. et al. L. Morphological and functional changes of the nucleolus.

ribosome synthesis is regulated by the same cellular cycle that dictates nucleolar structure. and thus any disruption in this balance can likely be linked to the provenance of a variety of diseases. perhaps most notably cancer. Being born of the nucleolus. and there is even some evidence to suggest that the nucleolar structure itself is supported by the very act of synthesizing ribosomes.some small exception. The fragile balance that exists between nucleolus and ribosome biogenesis gives rise to the very protein synthesis that makes cell proliferation possible. So a clear picture of ribosome synthesis is not possible without a structural and functional understanding of this organelle. Further exploration of the integral role of the nucleolus in ribosome biogenesis should prove thus indispensable in the context of practical medical application as well as contribute to an overall working knowledge of complex but fundamental biological processes. primarily in the organelle known as the nucleolus. . .

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