The Diseased Mitoribosome

Alberto Ferrari, Samuel Del’Olio, Antoni Barrientos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Mitochondria control life and death in eukaryotic cells. Harboring a unique circular genome, a by-product of an ancient endosymbiotic event, mitochondria maintains a specialized and evolutionary divergent protein synthesis machinery, the mitoribosome. Mitoribosome biogenesis depends on elements encoded in both the mitochondrial genome (the RNA components) and the nuclear genome (all ribosomal proteins and assembly factors). Recent cryo-EM structures of mammalian mitoribosomes have illuminated their composition and provided hints regarding their assembly and elusive mitochondrial translation mechanisms. A growing body of literature involves the mitoribosome in inherited primary mitochondrial disorders. Mutations in genes encoding mitoribosomal RNAs, proteins, and assembly factors impede mitoribosome biogenesis, causing protein synthesis defects that lead to respiratory chain failure and mitochondrial disorders such as encephalo- and cardiomyopathy, deafness, neuropathy, and developmental delays. In this article, we review the current fundamental understanding of mitoribosome assembly and function, and the clinical landscape of mitochondrial disorders driven by mutations in mitoribosome components and assembly factors, to portray how basic and clinical studies combined help us better understand both mitochondrial biology and medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1061
Number of pages37
JournalFEBS letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • OXPHOS deficiency
  • mitochondrial disease
  • mitochondrial ribosome
  • mitochondrial translation
  • mitoribosome assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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