Ribosome biogenesis takes place mainly in the nucleolus, a nuclear, non-membrane bound organelle forming around the gene arrays encoding ribosomal RNA (rRNA). Nucleolar activity comprises synthesis, processing and maturation of rRNAs, followed by their assembly with ribosomal proteins into pre-ribosomal particles. The final formation of translation-competent ribosomes in the cytoplasm is the prerequisite for protein synthesis, which is the most energy-consuming cellular process. In adult stem cells, ribosome biogenesis and protein synthesis determine the switch between the quiescent and the activated state, but also decide whether activated stem cells self-renew or differentiate. Given this major impact on cellular function, it seems likely that perturbations of the circuitry between nucleolar activity and translation lead to ageing-related stem cell deterioration. This review provides an overview of how ribosome biogenesis and translation govern stem cell function and discusses the resultant implication in stem cell ageing.
Keywords: Adult stem cells; Ageing; Epigenetics; Nucleolus; Ribosome biogenesis; Translation; rRNA genes.
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