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Immunol Cell Biol. 1999 Jun;77(3):197-205.

Involvement of ribosomal proteins in regulating cell growth and apoptosis: translational modulation or recruitment for extraribosomal activity?

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Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.


Gene recruitment is a mechanism of molecular evolution whereby a gene product can function in more than one distinct capacity. The 'one gene-dual function' phenomenon is well illustrated by crystallins, structural proteins that play both specialized roles in the eye lens and also 'housekeeping' enzyme roles. Ribosomal proteins are integral components of the basal cellular machinery involved in protein synthesis, whose roles have been regarded collectively as important, but individually somewhat mundane. However, various individual ribosomal proteins and also translation initiation and elongation factors have been found to play roles in regulating cell growth, transformation and death, giving rise to increasing speculation that components of the translational apparatus can act as multifunctional proteins. Recently, we have shown that ribosomal protein S3a (RPS3a) plays important roles in cell transformation and death, whereby constitutively or transiently enhanced RPS3a expression can be regarded as 'priming' a cell for apoptosis and suppression of such enhanced expression as 'execution'. While it is unclear whether RPS3a acts in a capacity mechanistically distinct from that in translation, such a possibility is discussed in this article in the light of recent, although not exhaustively reviewed, findings implicating the involvement of other individual ribosomal proteins in modulating and/or effecting changes in cellular responses and growth patterns in an extraribosomal capacity independent of their conventional role in translation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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