The importance of ribosome production, and the 5S RNP-MDM2 pathway, in health and disease

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Ribosomes are abundant, large RNA-protein complexes that are the source of all protein synthesis in the cell. The production of ribosomes is an extremely energetically expensive cellular process that has long been linked to human health and disease. More recently, it has been shown that ribosome biogenesis is intimately linked to multiple cellular signalling pathways and that defects in ribosome production can lead to a wide variety of human diseases. Furthermore, changes in ribosome production in response to nutrient levels in the diet lead to metabolic re-programming of the liver. Reduced or abnormal ribosome production in response to cellular stress or mutations in genes encoding factors critical for ribosome biogenesis causes the activation of the tumour suppressor p53, which leads to re-programming of cellular transcription. The ribosomal assembly intermediate 5S RNP (ribonucleoprotein particle), containing RPL5, RPL11 and the 5S rRNA, accumulates when ribosome biogenesis is blocked. The excess 5S RNP binds to murine double minute 2 (MDM2), the main p53-suppressor in the cell, inhibiting its function and leading to p53 activation. Here, we discuss the involvement of ribosome biogenesis in the homoeostasis of p53 in the cell and in human health and disease.




Pelava, A., Schneider, C., & Watkins, N. J. (2016). The importance of ribosome production, and the 5S RNP-MDM2 pathway, in health and disease. Biochemical Society Transactions, 44(4), 1086–1090.

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