Translation involves interactions between mRNAs, ribosomes, tRNAs and a host of translation factors. Emerging evidence on the eukaryotic translational machinery indicates that these factors are organized in a highly optimized network, in which the levels of the different factors are finely matched to each other. This optimal factor network is essential for producing proteomes that result in optimal fitness, and perturbations to the optimal network that significantly affect translational activity therefore result in non-optimal proteomes, fitness losses and disease. On the other hand, experimental evidence indicates that translation and cell growth are relatively robust to perturbations, and viability can be maintained even upon significant damage to individual translation factors. How the eukaryotic translational machinery is optimized, and how it can maintain optimization in the face of changing internal parameters, are open questions relevant to the interaction between translation and cellular disease states.

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