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Int J Oncol. 2016 Apr;48(4):1313-24. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3387. Epub 2016 Feb 9.

Role of ribosomal protein mutations in tumor development (Review).

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Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, Cancer Center Karolinska, CCK R8:05, Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, Stockholm, Sweden.
Science for Life Laboratory, Division of Translational Medicine and Chemical Biology, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Ribosomes are cellular machines essential for protein synthesis. The biogenesis of ribosomes is a highly complex and energy consuming process that initiates in the nucleolus. Recently, a series of studies applying whole-exome or whole-genome sequencing techniques have led to the discovery of ribosomal protein gene mutations in different cancer types. Mutations in ribosomal protein genes have for example been found in endometrial cancer (RPL22), T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (RPL10, RPL5 and RPL11), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (RPS15), colorectal cancer (RPS20), and glioma (RPL5). Moreover, patients suffering from Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a bone marrow failure syndrome caused by mutant ribosomal proteins are also at higher risk for developing leukemia, or solid tumors. Different experimental models indicate potential mechanisms whereby ribosomal proteins may initiate cancer development. In particular, deregulation of the p53 tumor suppressor network and altered mRNA translation are mechanisms likely to be involved. We envisage that changes in expression and the occurrence of ribosomal protein gene mutations play important roles in cancer development. Ribosome biology constitutes a re-emerging vital area of basic and translational cancer research.

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