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FEBS Lett. 2013 Apr 17;587(8):1189-97. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2013.02.032. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Specialization from synthesis: how ribosome diversity can customize protein function.

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Western Australian Institute for Medical Research and Centre for Medical Research, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6000, Australia.


It was thought that the proteins produced by ribosomes were dictated only by the sequences of the mRNAs they translated, however it is becoming apparent that subpopulations of ribosomes can have unique properties that influence the functions of the proteins they produce. Ribosomes have been engineered to discriminate between different mRNA templates or with unique decoding properties, and many new applications of unnatural ribosomes can be foreseen. In natural systems ribosomes with alternate protein and RNA composition have been shown to selectively translate specific mRNAs. As more is learned about ribosome structure and the mechanisms of translation, new opportunities to engineer ribosomes for applications in biotechnology and synthetic biology can be developed and new examples of ribosome-mediated regulation of translation are likely to emerge in nature.

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