The regulation of protein synthesis is of extreme importance for cell survival in challenging environmental conditions. Modulating gene expression at the level of translation allows a swift and low-energy-cost response to external stimuli. In the last decade, an emerging class of regulatory ncRNAs, namely ribosome-associated non-coding RNAs (rancRNAs), has been discovered. These rancRNAs have proven to be efficient players in the regulation of translation as a first wave of stress adaptation by directly targeting the ribosome, the central enzyme of protein production. This underlying principle appears to be highly conserved, since rancRNAs are present in all three domains of life. Here, we review the major findings and mechanistic peculiarities of rancRNAs, a class of transcripts that is providing new and broader perspectives on the complexity of the ribosome and translation regulation.
Keywords: non-protein coding RNA; ribosome functions; stress response; translation control.