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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2013 Apr;16(2):133-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2013.01.009. Epub 2013 Feb 14.

Ribosome heterogeneity: another level of complexity in bacterial translation regulation.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunobiology and Genetics, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna, Dr. Bohrgasse 9, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.


Translation of the mRNA-encoded genetic information into proteins is catalyzed by the intricate ribonucleoprotein machine, the ribosome. Historically, the bacterial ribosome is viewed as an unchangeable entity, constantly equipped with the entire complement of RNAs and proteins. Conversely, several lines of evidence indicate the presence of functional selective ribosomal subpopulations that exhibit variations in the RNA or the protein components and modulate the translational program in response to environmental changes. Here, we summarize these findings, which raise the functional status of the ribosome from a protein synthesis machinery only to a regulatory hub that integrates environmental cues in the process of protein synthesis, thereby adding an additional level of complexity to the regulation of gene expression.

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