Mitoribosome biogenesis is an expensive metabolic process that is essential to maintain cellular respiratory capacity and requires the stoichiometric accumulation of rRNAs and proteins encoded in two distinct genomes. In yeast, the ribosomal protein Var1, alias uS3m, is mitochondrion-encoded. uS3m is a protein universally present in all ribosomes, where it forms part of the small subunit (SSU) mRNA entry channel and plays a pivotal role in ribosome loading onto the mRNA. However, despite its critical functional role, very little is known concerning VAR1 gene expression. Here, we demonstrate that the protein Sov1 is an in bona fide VAR1 mRNA translational activator and additionally interacts with newly synthesized Var1 polypeptide. Moreover, we show that Sov1 assists the late steps of mtSSU biogenesis involving the incorporation of Var1, an event necessary for uS14 and mS46 assembly. Notably, we have uncovered a translational regulatory mechanism by which Sov1 fine-tunes Var1 synthesis with its assembly into the mitoribosome.
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