Caught in the act-Visualizing ribonucleases during eukaryotic ribosome assembly

Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2022 Oct 18;e1766. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1766. Online ahead of print.


Ribosomes are essential macromolecular machines responsible for translating the genetic information encoded in mRNAs into proteins. Ribosomes are composed of ribosomal RNAs and proteins (rRNAs and RPs) and the rRNAs fulfill both catalytic and architectural functions. Excision of the mature eukaryotic rRNAs from their precursor transcript is achieved through a complex series of endoribonucleolytic cleavages and exoribonucleolytic processing steps that are precisely coordinated with other aspects of ribosome assembly. Many ribonucleases involved in pre-rRNA processing have been identified and pre-rRNA processing pathways are relatively well defined. However, momentous advances in cryo-electron microscopy have recently enabled structural snapshots of various pre-ribosomal particles from budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and human cells to be captured and, excitingly, these structures not only allow pre-rRNAs to be observed before and after cleavage events, but also enable ribonucleases to be visualized on their target RNAs. These structural views of pre-rRNA processing in action allow a new layer of understanding of rRNA maturation and how it is coordinated with other aspects of ribosome assembly. They illuminate mechanisms of target recognition by the diverse ribonucleases involved and reveal how the cleavage/processing activities of these enzymes are regulated. In this review, we discuss the new insights into pre-rRNA processing gained by structural analyses and the growing understanding of the mechanisms of ribonuclease regulation. This article is categorized under: Translation > Ribosome Biogenesis RNA Processing > rRNA Processing.

Keywords: RNA exosome; RNA processing; ribonuclease; ribosome biogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review