The ribosome is a macromolecular complex of proteins and RNA, which plays a key role in every living organism, being a heart of the process of translation. Recent findings have shown that it can be also regarded as a regulatory element that adjusts cellular proteome to highly variable environmental conditions. The ribosome is believed to possess the ability to “filter” populations of mRNAs for choosing their appropriate set to meet current demands of the cell. The filter mechanism is based on a specific interaction between mRNA and rRNA or mRNA and ribosomal proteins. The ribosome “filtering activity” is reflected by the ribosomal particles heterogeneity, which originates mainly from variations or modifications within particular components of translational apparatus. Alternations of ribosomal proteins or/and rRNA generate a specific class of ribosomes called specialized ribosomes, which having unique composition can display selectivity toward particular mRNAs representing an additional step of gene expression regulation at the translational level. This work describes a basis of ribosome filter hypothesis illustrated by interesting examples from different domains of life.
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