Ribosome heterogeneity in Drosophila melanogaster gonads through paralog-switching

Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Feb 28;50(4):2240-2257. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkab606.


Ribosomes have long been thought of as homogeneous macromolecular machines, but recent evidence suggests they are heterogeneous and could be specialised to regulate translation. Here, we have characterised ribosomal protein heterogeneity across 4 tissues of Drosophila melanogaster. We find that testes and ovaries contain the most heterogeneous ribosome populations, which occurs through a combination of paralog-enrichment and paralog-switching. We have solved structures of ribosomes purified from in vivo tissues by cryo-EM, revealing differences in precise ribosomal arrangement for testis and ovary 80S ribosomes. Differences in the amino acid composition of paralog pairs and their localisation on the ribosome exterior indicate paralog-switching could alter the ribosome surface, enabling different proteins to regulate translation. One testis-specific paralog-switching pair is also found in humans, suggesting this is a conserved site of ribosome heterogeneity. Overall, this work allows us to propose that mRNA translation might be regulated in the gonads through ribosome heterogeneity, providing a potential means of ribosome specialisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Male
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Ribosomal Proteins / metabolism
  • Ribosomes* / genetics
  • Ribosomes* / metabolism
  • Testis / metabolism


  • Ribosomal Proteins