, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 29-49
Date: 14 Dec 2006

A housekeeper with power of attorney: the rRNA genes in ribosome biogenesis

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Abstract.

Ribosome biogenesis centres both physically and functionally on the activity of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes. Ribosome assembly occurs co-transcriptionally on these genes, requires the coordinated expression and assembly of many hundreds of proteins and is finely tuned to cell and organism growth. This review presents contemporary understanding of the mode and the means of rRNA gene transcription and how growth factors, oncogenes and tumour suppressors regulate this transcription. It is argued that transcription elongation is a key mechanism regulating rRNA gene transcription. This unorthodox view provides a logical framework to explain the co-transcriptional phase of ribosome biogenesis.

Received 12 June 2006; received after revision 16 August 2006; accepted 5 October 2006