Ribosome-omics of the human ribosome

Varun Gupta, Jonathan R. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The torrent of RNA-seq data becoming available not only furnishes an overview of the entire transcriptome but also provides tools to focus on specific areas of interest. Our focus on the synthesis of ribosomes asked whether the abundance of mRNAs encoding ribosomal proteins (RPs) matched the equimolar need for the RPs in the assembly of ribosomes. We were at first surprised to find, in the mapping data of ENCODE and other sources, that there were nearly 100-fold differences in the level of the mRNAs encoding the different RPs. However, after correcting for the mapping ambiguities introduced by the presence of more than 2000 pseudogenes derived from RP mRNAs, we show that for 80%-90% of the RP genes, the molar ratio of mRNAs varies less than threefold, with little tissue specificity. Nevertheless, since the RPs are needed in equimolar amounts, there must be sluggish or regulated translation of the more abundant RP mRNAs and/or substantial turnover of unused RPs. In addition, seven of the RPs have subsidiary genes, three of which are pseudogenes that have been "rescued" by the introduction of promoters and/or upstream introns. Several of these are transcribed in a tissue-specific manner, e.g., RPL10L in testis and RPL3L in muscle, leading to potential variation in ribosome structure from one tissue to another. Of the 376 introns in the RP genes, a single one is alternatively spliced in a tissue-specific manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1013
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Alternative splicing
  • Pseudogene
  • RNA-seq
  • Ribosomal protein
  • Ribosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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