There is mounting evidence that the ribosome is not a static translation machinery, but a cell-specific, adaptive system. Ribosomal variations have mostly been studied at the protein level, even though the essential transcriptional functions are primarily performed by rRNAs. At the RNA level, oocyte-specific 5S rRNAs are long known for Xenopus. Recently, we described for zebrafish a similar system in which the sole maternal-type 5S rRNA present in eggs is replaced completely during embryonic development by a somatic-type. Here, we report the discovery of an analogous system for the 45S rDNA elements: 5.8S, 18S, and 28S. The maternal-type 5.8S, 18S, and 28S rRNA sequences differ substantially from those of the somatic-type, plus the maternal-type rRNAs are also replaced by the somatic-type rRNAs during embryogenesis. We discuss the structural and functional implications of the observed sequence differences with respect to the translational functions of the 5.8S, 18S, and 28S rRNA elements. Finally, in silico evidence suggests that expansion segments (ES) in 18S rRNA, previously implicated in ribosome-mRNA interaction, may have a preference for interacting with specific mRNA genes. Taken together, our findings indicate that two distinct types of ribosomes exist in zebrafish during development, each likely conducting the translation machinery in a unique way.
Locati, M. D., Pagano, J. F. B., Girard, G., Ensink, W. A., Van Olst, M., Van Leeuwen, S., … Breit, T. M. (2017). Expression of distinct maternal and somatic 5.8S, 18S, and 28S rRNA types during zebrafish development. RNA, 23(8), 1188–1199. https://doi.org/10.1261/rna.061515.117