2000 ribosomes have to be synthesized in yeast every minute. Therefore the fast production of ribosomal proteins, their efficient delivery to the nucleus and correct incorporation into ribosomal subunits are prerequisites for optimal growth rates. Here, we report that the ankyrin repeat protein Yar1 directly interacts with the small ribosomal subunit protein Rps3 and accompanies newly synthesized Rps3 from the cytoplasm into the nucleus where Rps3 is assembled into pre-ribosomal subunits. A yar1 deletion strain displays a similar phenotype as an rps3 mutant strain, showing an accumulation of 20S pre-rRNA and a 40S export defect. The combination of an rps3 mutation with a yar1 deletion leads to an enhancement of these phenotypes, while increased expression of RPS3 suppresses the defects of a yar1 deletion strain. We further show that Yar1 protects Rps3 from aggregation in vitro and increases its solubility in vivo. Our data suggest that Yar1 is a specific chaperone for Rps3, which serves to keep Rps3 soluble until its incorporation into the pre-ribosome.
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