The synthesis of adequate amounts of ribosomes is an essential task for the cell. It is therefore not surprising that regulatory circuits exist to organize the synthesis of ribosomal components. It has been shown that defect in ribosome biogenesis (ribosomal stress) induces apoptosis or cell cycle arrest through activation of the tumor suppressor p53. This mechanism is thought to be implicated in the pathophysiology of a group of genetic diseases such as Diamond Blackfan Anemia which are called ribosomopathies. We have identified an additional response to ribosomal stress that includes the activation of eukaryotic translation elongation factor 2 kinase with a consequent inhibition of translation elongation. This leads to a translational reprogramming in the cell that involves the structurally defined group of messengers called terminal oligopyrimidine (TOP) mRNAs which encode ribosomal proteins and translation factors. In fact, while general protein synthesis is decreased by the impairment of elongation, TOP mRNAs are recruited on polysomes causing a relative increase in the synthesis of TOP mRNA-encoded proteins compared to other proteins. Therefore, in response to ribosomal stress, there is a change in the translation pattern of the cell which may help restore a sufficient level of ribosomes.
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