The dormant egg: scientists bring the ‘sleep mode’ of egg ribosomes to light

In animals, eggs serve as a stockpile that contains all the necessary components for the early stages of embryonic development. Ribosomes, the molecular machines that produce proteins, are deposited in large amounts in the egg, yet most of them remain inactive to preserve energy until fertilisation and first cell divisions. In a cross-disciplinary effort, scientists at the IMP have discovered the molecular mechanism that keeps ribosomes dormant in fish and frog eggs and report their findings in the journal Nature.

Artist’s impression of the egg ribosome (white and yellow), with Dap1b in green, eIF5a in magenta, eEF2 in orange and Habp4 in blue (credit: IMP).

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