Tuning the ribosome: The influence of rRNA modification on eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis and function

RNA Biol. 2017 Sep 2;14(9):1138-1152. doi: 10.1080/15476286.2016.1259781. Epub 2016 Dec 2.


rRNAs are extensively modified during their transcription and subsequent maturation in the nucleolus, nucleus and cytoplasm. RNA modifications, which are installed either by snoRNA-guided or by stand-alone enzymes, generally stabilize the structure of the ribosome. However, they also cluster at functionally important sites of the ribosome, such as the peptidyltransferase center and the decoding site, where they facilitate efficient and accurate protein synthesis. The recent identification of sites of substoichiometric 2'-O-methylation and pseudouridylation has overturned the notion that all rRNA modifications are constitutively present on ribosomes, highlighting nucleotide modifications as an important source of ribosomal heterogeneity. While the mechanisms regulating partial modification and the functions of specialized ribosomes are largely unknown, changes in the rRNA modification pattern have been observed in response to environmental changes, during development, and in disease. This suggests that rRNA modifications may contribute to the translational control of gene expression.

Keywords: RNA methyltransferase; RNA modification; acetylation; methylation; pseudouridylation; ribosome; ribosomopathy; snoRNA; translation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • RNA, Ribosomal / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal / genetics*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar / genetics
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / chemistry
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar