How do cells make ribosomes?
The long-term goal of this project is to understand how cells make ribosomes. One of the ways in which cancer cells differ from normal cells is their huge rate of ribosome biogenesis, and thus understanding how cells assemble and export ribosomes may provide new therapeutic targets for the specific inhibition of cancer cell growth. Ribosomes are among the largest and most complex ribonuclear-protein machines assembled in eukaryotes, and their export, from the nucleus where they are assembled, to the cytoplasm where they function, presents some unusual challenges for cells. First, ribosomes are huge compared to the dimensions of the nuclear pore. Second, export must be coupled to proper assembly to prevent the premature export of incomplete subunits. Recently, significant progress has been made towards identifying the export receptors for the large (60S) ribosomal subunit, but the factor(s) necessary to export the small (40S) subunit remain largely undefined. In my lab we use a combination of genetics, biochemistry and microscopy to understand the role of specific genes in this evolutionarily conserved process.