Adaptive preservation of orphan ribosomal proteins in chaperone-stirred condensates

Ali A, Garde R, Schaffer OC, Bard JAM, Husain K, Keyport Kik S, Davis KA, Luengo-Woods S, Drummond DA, Squires AH, Pincus D, Nature Cell Biology (2023).


Ribosome biogenesis is among the most resource-intensive cellular processes, with ribosomal proteins accounting for up to half of all newly synthesized proteins in eukaryotic cells. During stress, cells shut down ribosome biogenesis in part by halting rRNA synthesis, potentially leading to massive accumulation of aggregation-prone ‘orphan’ ribosomal proteins (oRPs). Here we show that, during heat shock in yeast and human cells, oRPs accumulate as reversible peri-nucleolar condensates recognized by the Hsp70 co-chaperone Sis1/DnaJB6. oRP condensates are liquid-like in cell-free lysate but solidify upon depletion of Sis1 or inhibition of Hsp70. When cells recover from heat shock, oRP condensates disperse in a Sis1- and Hsp70-dependent manner, and the oRP constituents are incorporated into functional ribosomes in the cytosol, enabling cells to efficiently resume growth. Preserving biomolecules in reversible condensates—like mRNAs in cytosolic stress granules and oRPs at the nucleolar periphery—may be a primary function of the Hsp70 chaperone system.