Ribosome recycling is the final - or first - step of the cyclic process of mRNA translation. In eukaryotes and archaea, dissociation of the two ribosomal subunits proceeds in a fundamentally different way than in bacteria. It requires the ABC-type ATPase ABCE1 [previously named RNase L inhibitor (Rli)1 or host protein (HP)68], but the reaction and its regulation remain enigmatic. Here, we focus on ribosome recycling in its physiological context, including translation termination and reinitiation. The regulation of this crucial event can only be described by a systems biology approach, involving a network of proteins modulating mRNA translation. The key role of ABCE1, and what is known about the structure and function of this versatile protein, is discussed.
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