During protein synthesis, translating ribosomes encounter many challenges imposed by various types of defective mRNAs that can lead to reduced cellular fitness and, in some cases, even threaten cell viability. Aberrant translation leads to activation of one of several quality control pathways depending on the nature of the problem. These pathways promote the degradation of the problematic mRNA as well as the incomplete translation product, the nascent polypeptide chain. Many of these quality control systems feature critical roles for specialized regulatory factors that work in concert with conventional factors. This review focuses on the mechanisms used by these quality control pathways to recognize aberrant ribosome stalling and discusses the conservation of these systems.
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