The eukaryotic proteome has to be precisely regulated at multiple levels of gene expression, from transcription, translation, and degradation of RNA and protein to adjust to several cellular conditions. Particularly at the translational level, regulation is controlled by a variety of RNA binding proteins, translation and associated factors, numerous enzymes, and by post-translational modifications (PTM). Ubiquitination, a prominent PTM discovered as the signal for protein degradation, has newly emerged as a modulator of protein synthesis by controlling several processes in translation. Advances in proteomics and cryo-electron microscopy have identified ubiquitin modifications of several ribosomal proteins and provided numerous insights on how this modification affects ribosome structure and function. The variety of pathways and functions of translation controlled by ubiquitin are determined by the various enzymes involved in ubiquitin conjugation and removal, by the ubiquitin chain type used, by the target sites of ubiquitination, and by the physiologic signals triggering its accumulation. Current research is now elucidating multiple ubiquitin-mediated mechanisms of translational control, including ribosome biogenesis, ribosome degradation, ribosome-associated protein quality control (RQC), and redox control of translation by ubiquitin (RTU). This review discusses the central role of ubiquitin in modulating the dynamism of the cellular proteome and explores the molecular aspects responsible for the expanding puzzle of ubiquitin signals and functions in translation.
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