* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received February 25, 2012
The question concerning reasons for the variety of ribosomal proteins that arose for more than 40 years ago is still open. Ribosomes of modern organisms contain 50-80 individual proteins. Some are characteristic for all domains of life (universal ribosomal proteins), whereas others are specific for bacteria, archaea, or eucaryotes. Extensive information about ribosomal proteins has been obtained since that time. However, the role of the majority of ribosomal proteins in the formation and functioning of the ribosome is still not so clear. Based on recent data of experiments and bioinformatics, this review presents a comprehensive evaluation of structural conservatism of ribosomal proteins from evolutionarily distant organisms. Considering the current knowledge about features of the structural organization of the universal proteins and their intermolecular contacts, a possible role of individual proteins and their structural elements in the formation and functioning of ribosomes is discussed. The structural and functional conservatism of the majority of proteins of this group suggests that they should be present in the ribosome already in the early stages of its evolution.
KEY WORDS: ribosomal proteins, RNA–protein interactions, ribosome, evolution