Synthesis

The synthesis of ribosomes is itself a very complex process, requiring the coordinated output from dozens of genes encoding ribosomal proteins and rRNAs. Ribosomes are assembled from their many component parts in an orderly pathway. In eukaryotes, rRNA synthesis and most of the assembly

Ribosomes from a liver cell are represented by the darkened ares of the magnified image. These organelles contain RNA and use it for protein synthesis.

steps occur in a structure within the nucleus called the nucleolus. Eukary-otic ribosome synthesis is especially complicated, because the ribosomal proteins themselves are made by ribosomes in the cytoplasm (that is, outside of the nucleus), so they then must be imported into the nucleolus for assembly onto the nucleolus-derived rRNA. Once assembled, the nearly complete ribosomal subunits are then exported out of the nucleus and back into the cytoplasm for the final steps of assembly.

The exact details of the in vivo ribosome assembly pathway (the process of ribosome assembly within the living cell) are still under investigation. Assembly in eukaryotic cells involves not only the components of the mature particles, but also dozens of auxiliary factors that promote the efficient and accurate construction of the ribosome during its assembly. However, bacterial ribosomes can be constructed in vitro using purified ribosomal proteins and rRNAs. These ribosomes appear to function normally in in vitro translation reactions.

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