Ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins in the nucleolus: Multitasking tools for a ribosome factory

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23 Scopus citations


Synthesis of new ribosomes is an essential process upregulated during cell growth and proliferation. Here, we review our current understanding of the role that ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins (UBLs) play in ribosome biogenesis, with a focus on mammalian cells. One important function of the nuclear ubiquitin-proteasome system is to control the supply of ribosomal proteins for the assembly of new ribosomal subunits in the nucleolus. Mutations in ribosomal proteins or ribosome assembly factors, stress, and many anticancer drugs have been shown to disrupt normal ribosome biogenesis, triggering a p53-dependent response. We discuss how p53 can be activated by the aberrant ribosome formation, centering on the current models of the interaction between ribosomal proteins released from the nucleolus and the ubiquitin ligase Mdm2. Recent studies also revealed multiple ubiquitin- and UBL-conjugated forms of nucleolar proteins with largely unknown functions, indicating that many new details about the role of these modifications in the nucleolus await to be discovered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-689
Number of pages9
JournalGenes and Cancer
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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