Mechanisms and Evolution of Ribosome Specialisation

Ribosomes are large macromolecular complexes that perform all cellular protein synthesis. The ribosome was long considered to be uniform in both composition and, consequently, function. However, our understanding of ‘the ribosome’ and translation has been transformed by the discovery that specialized ribosomes exist and regulate translation of specific pools of mRNA; thus constituting a novel step in gene expression. A comprehensive inventory of specialized ribosomes and the underlying mechanisms by which specialisation exerts translational control of particular mRNA populations is yet to be elucidated. Our collaboration will explore the nature of ribosome specialisation during cellular differentiation from an evolutionary perspective. The work proposed has the potential to shed light on the molecularmechanisms underlying human diseases caused by mutations to ribosomal proteins e.g. Diamond-Blackfan anaemia.
1)     To develop a research network with varied interests in ribosomes and their specialisation.
2)     To understand the importance and phylogenetic distribution of ribosome specialisation by examining the functional genomics and evolutionary history of ribosomal proteins using comparative genomics across eukaryotes.
3)     To develop a model system in which to dissect the molecular mechanisms underpinning the generation of specialised ribosomes.
4)     To determine how ribosome composition changes during differentiation.

Lead Academic at Lead Institution
Dr Julie Aspden – University of Leeds
Lead Academics at other Institutions
Dr Emma Thomson – University of Sheffield
Dr Daniel Jeffares – University of York
Other people associated with this project

  • Dr Juan Fontana
  • Prof Brendan Davies


  • Dr Ivana Barbaric
  • Dr Ian Sudberry


  • Dr Sarah Forrester


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