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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2009 Feb;21(1):109-18. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Jan 21.

Assembly of ribosomes and spliceosomes: complex ribonucleoprotein machines.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Ribosomes and spliceosomes are ribonucleoprotein nanomachines that catalyze translation of mRNA to synthesize proteins and splicing of introns from pre-mRNAs, respectively. Assembly of ribosomes involves more than 300 proteins and RNAs, and that of spliceosomes over 100 proteins and RNAs. Construction of these enormous ribonucleoprotein particles (RNPs) is a dynamic process, in which the nascent RNPs undergo numerous ordered rearrangements of RNA-RNA, RNA-protein, and protein-protein interactions. Here we outline similar principles that have emerged from studies of ribosome and spliceosome assembly. Constituents of both RNPs form subassembly complexes, which can simplify the task of assembly and segregate functions of assembly factors. Reorganization of RNP topology, and proofreading of proper assembly, are catalyzed by protein- or RNA-dependent ATPases or GTPases. Dynamics of intermolecular interactions may be facilitated or regulated by cycles of post-translational modifications. Despite this repertoire of tools, mistakes occur in RNP assembly or in processing of RNA substrates. Quality control mechanisms recognize and turnover misassembled RNPs and reject improper substrates.

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