More than a passive effector of gene expression, mRNA translation (protein synthesis) by the ribosome is a rapidly tunable and dynamic molecular mechanism. Neurodevelopmental disorders are associated with abnormalities in mRNA translation, protein synthesis, and neocortical development; yet, we know little about the molecular mechanisms underlying these abnormalities. Furthermore, our understanding of regulation of the ribosome and mRNA translation during normal brain development is only in its early stages. mRNA translation is emerging as a key driver of the rapid and timed regulation of spatiotemporal gene expression in the developing nervous system, including the neocortex. In this review, we focus on the regulatory role of the ribosome in neocortical development, and construct a current understanding of how ribosomal complex specificity may contribute to the development of the neocortex. We also present a microarray analysis of ribosomal protein-coding mRNAs across the neurogenic phase of neocortical development, in addition to the dynamic enrichment of these mRNAs in actively translating neocortical polysomal ribosomes. Understanding the multivariate control of mRNA translation by ribosomal complex specificity will be critical to reveal the intricate mechanisms of normal brain development and pathologies of neurodevelopmental disorders.
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