The ribosome is a unique machine for protein synthesis in organisms. The construction of ribosomes is exceedingly complex and consumes the majority of the cell materials and energy. The materials for ribosome production are supplied by nutrients. Therefore, the production of ribosomes is restricted by environmental nutrients, and cells need mechanisms to control ribosome production in order to reconcile demands for cell activities with available resources. Transcription of ribosomal RNA is an essential step in ribosome biogenesis. It strongly affects the total amount of ribosome production, and thus rapidly growing cells have an elevated level of ribosomal RNA transcription. Ribosomal RNA transcription is controlled by many mechanisms, including the efficiency of preinitiation complex formation for RNA polymerase I (Pol I) and epigenetic marks in ribosomal RNA genes. These are affected by cell cycle progression, signal transduction pathways, cell-damaging stresses, nutrients such as glucose, and the metabolites. Recent studies also suggest that the epigenetic marks, acetylation and methylation, may be not only controlled by nutrients but also function as reservoirs for biological resources in chromatin. Further studies would provide information about the mechanisms cells use to adjust production of cellular components to available resources and clues for developing novel anti-cancer treatments.
Part of the book: Gene Expression and Regulation in Mammalian Cells