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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Apr;16(4):221-31. doi: 10.1038/nrm3958. Epub 2015 Mar 4.

Diversity and selectivity in mRNA translation on the endoplasmic reticulum.

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Program in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore 169857, Singapore.
Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Pioneering electron microscopy studies defined two primary populations of ribosomes in eukaryotic cells: one freely dispersed through the cytoplasm and the other bound to the surface of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Subsequent investigations revealed a specialized function for each population, with secretory and integral membrane protein-encoding mRNAs translated on ER-bound ribosomes, and cytosolic protein synthesis was widely attributed to free ribosomes. Recent findings have challenged this view, and transcriptome-scale studies of mRNA distribution and translation have now demonstrated that ER-bound ribosomes also function in the translation of a large fraction of mRNAs that encode cytosolic proteins. These studies suggest a far more expansive role for the ER in transcriptome expression, where membrane and secretory protein synthesis represents one element of a multifaceted and dynamic contribution to post-transcriptional gene expression.

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