Ribosomal proteins: functions beyond the ribosome

J Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Apr;7(2):92-104. doi: 10.1093/jmcb/mjv014. Epub 2015 Mar 3.


Although ribosomal proteins are known for playing an essential role in ribosome assembly and protein translation, their ribosome-independent functions have also been greatly appreciated. Over the past decade, more than a dozen of ribosomal proteins have been found to activate the tumor suppressor p53 pathway in response to ribosomal stress. In addition, these ribosomal proteins are involved in various physiological and pathological processes. This review is composed to overview the current understanding of how ribosomal stress provokes the accumulation of ribosome-free ribosomal proteins, as well as the ribosome-independent functions of ribosomal proteins in tumorigenesis, immune signaling, and development. We also propose the potential of applying these pieces of knowledge to the development of ribosomal stress-based cancer therapeutics.

Keywords: MDM2; cancer; immunity; p53; ribosomal protein; ribosomal stress; ribosomopathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Oncogene Proteins / physiology
  • Organ Specificity
  • Ribosomal Proteins / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / physiology


  • Oncogene Proteins
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins