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Cell survival under nutrient-deprived conditions relies on cells’ ability to adapt their organelles and to rewire their metabolic pathways. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe , nutrient depletion is an unfavorable condition for protein synthesis and triggers a response characterized by mitochondrial fragmentation and the sequestration of cytosolic ribosomes on mitochondria. The molecular mechanism underlying ribosomal sequestration remains elusive. In this study, we performed time-lapse in situ cryo-electron tomography and cryo-electron microscopy complemented by biochemical experiments to elucidate the molecular details of this adaptive response. Our analysis indicate that upon glucose depletion protein synthesis is halted, causing ribosomes to enter an inactive state characterized by a conformational change that obstructs the peptidyl transferase center. Our in situ experiments reveal the presence of oligomeric arrays of hibernating ribosomes tethered to the mitochondrial surface. Surprisingly, ribosomes bind to the outer mitochondrial membrane via the small ribosomal subunit, an interaction facilitated by the ribosomal protein RACK1-orthologue Cpc2. Our experiments show that ribosome tethering is important for cell survival under glucose depletion conditions. This study broadens our understanding of the cellular adaptations triggered by nutrient scarcity and the underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate cell quiescence.
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Are ribosomes guarding mitochondria during starvation? The fascinating cryo-EM/ET images of ribosomes attached to mitochondria provided in this preprint suggest that they might be!