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RNA. 2008 Sep;14(9):1918-29. doi: 10.1261/rna.1132008. Epub 2008 Aug 12.

The role of human ribosomal proteins in the maturation of rRNA and ribosome production.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Production of ribosomes is a fundamental process that occurs in all dividing cells. It is a complex process consisting of the coordinated synthesis and assembly of four ribosomal RNAs (rRNA) with about 80 ribosomal proteins (r-proteins) involving more than 150 nonribosomal proteins and other factors. Diamond Blackfan anemia (DBA) is an inherited red cell aplasia caused by mutations in one of several r-proteins. How defects in r-proteins, essential for proliferation in all cells, lead to a human disease with a specific defect in red cell development is unknown. Here, we investigated the role of r-proteins in ribosome biogenesis in order to find out whether those mutated in DBA have any similarities. We depleted HeLa cells using siRNA for several individual r-proteins of the small (RPS6, RPS7, RPS15, RPS16, RPS17, RPS19, RPS24, RPS25, RPS28) or large subunit (RPL5, RPL7, RPL11, RPL14, RPL26, RPL35a) and studied the effect on rRNA processing and ribosome production. Depleting r-proteins in one of the subunits caused, with a few exceptions, a decrease in all r-proteins of the same subunit and a decrease in the corresponding subunit, fully assembled ribosomes, and polysomes. R-protein depletion, with a few exceptions, led to the accumulation of specific rRNA precursors, highlighting their individual roles in rRNA processing. Depletion of r-proteins mutated in DBA always compromised ribosome biogenesis while affecting either subunit and disturbing rRNA processing at different levels, indicating that the rate of ribosome production rather than a specific step in ribosome biogenesis is critical in patients with DBA.

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