Standard Article

Translational Components in Prokaryotes: Genetics and Regulation of Ribosomes

  1. Rolf Wagner

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000538.pub2



How to Cite

Wagner, R. 2009. Translational Components in Prokaryotes: Genetics and Regulation of Ribosomes. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


The regulation of the biosynthesis of ribosomes, which constitute the catalytic organelles for the translation reaction, is central for the adaptation of bacteria to different growth conditions. The synthesis of the different ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) and ribosomal protein (RP) components is controlled and coordinated by a complex network of regulatory mechanisms to adjust the translational capacity to the required cell demands. Regulation of rRNA transcription plays a key role in ribosome formation. Quality control steps are operated during processing and assembly to ensure functionally competent particles and to avoid the accumulation of defective products and waste of energy and resources.

Key concepts:

  • Bacterial growth rates depend on the number of ribosomes.

  • Ribosome synthesis is adapted to environmental changes.

  • Biosynthesis of ribosomes involves quality control steps.

  • Ribosome synthesis is determined by the rate of rRNA transcription.

  • Synthesis of many ribosomal proteins is adjusted to the amount of free rRNA by a translational feedback mechanism.

  • Many ribosomal proteins have extra-ribosomal functions in the cell.

  • A limited number of sequence heterogeneities in the redundantly encoded rRNA genes provide the potential for the formation of specialized ribosomes.

  • The stringent control is one of the major mechanisms for the adaptation of ribosomes in response to nutritional changes.


  • ribosome biogenesis;
  • ribosomal proteins;
  • ribosomal RNA;
  • regulation;
  • quality control