Halting a cellular production line: Responses to ribosomal pausing during translation

J. Ross Buchan, Ian Stansfield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Cellular protein synthesis is a complex polymerization process carried out by multiple ribosomes translating individual mRNAs. The process must be responsive to rapidly changing conditions in the cell that could cause ribosomal pausing and queuing. In some circumstances, pausing of a bacterial ribosome can trigger translational abandonment via the process of trans-translation, mediated by tmRNA (transfer-messenger RNA) and endonucleases. Together, these factors release the ribosome from the mRNA and target the incomplete polypeptide for destruction. In eukaryotes, ribosomal pausing can initiate an analogous process carried out by the Dom34p and Hbs1p proteins, which trigger endonucleolytic attack of the mRNA, a process termed mRNA no-go decay. However, ribosomal pausing can also be employed for regulatory purposes, and controlled translational delays are used to help co-translational folding of the nascent polypeptide on the ribosome, as well as a tactic to delay translation of a protein while its encoding mRNA is being localized within the cell. However, other responses to pausing trigger ribosomal frameshift events. Recent discoveries are thus revealing a wide variety of mechanisms used to respond to translational pausing and thus regulate the flow of ribosomal traffic on the mRNA population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-487
Number of pages13
JournalBiology of the Cell
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Frameshifting
  • Peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase
  • Ribosomal drop-off
  • Ribosome
  • Transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA)
  • Translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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