Ok, so after the genome, epigenome, transcriptome, metabolome and proteome, why don’t we add a new member to the 'ome' family: the ribome?
The ribome is the collection of all the ribosomes in the cell. It’s clear that ribosomes deserve this term, they have always been underappreciated cellular parts, considered as immutable little factories that just churn out proteins according to specific sets of instructions, but in fact they are intricately complex, changing, mutable and interconnected structures that constantly interact with each other, the genome, epigenome, transcriptome and many other cellular processes.
Ribosomes enable the cells to carry out much more complex and refined functions, are at the nexus of the RNA and protein world having both DNA-like and enzymatic qualities, and are remnants of an evolutionary past that played out before life existed, at least bacterial life as we currently know it.
So ribosomes certainly deserve their own ‘ome’. Okay, we already have the translatome, being all the mRNA molecules getting translated, and the translational apparatus, encompassing the ribosomes, t-RNA, m-RNA and various other molecules involved in translation.
However, the ribome specifically refers to only the ribosomes. Recent discoveries show that ribosomes are not always the same immutable structures that can be found in every cell. To the contrary, research shows that different cells can contain different populations of ribosomes and that even in a specific cell different ribosomes can exist, in the sense that some populations of ribosomes prefer to translate specific genes compared to other groups or kinds of ribosomes for example. The fact that various different ribosomes with different functions exist, warrants their own 'ome' moniker.
So long live the ribome!
PS: Please note that when you google 'ribome', several results show up, but these 'ribomes' are writing errors of the word 'ribosome'.
Author: Kris Verburgh, MD