YbeY is an ultraconserved small protein belonging to the unique heritage shared by most existing bacteria and eukaryotic organelles of bacterial origin, mitochondria and chloroplasts. Studied in more than a dozen of evolutionarily distant species, YbeY is invariably critical for cellular physiology. However, the exact mechanisms by which it exerts such penetrating influence are not completely understood. In this review, we attempt a transversal analysis of the current knowledge about YbeY, based on genetic, structural, and biochemical data from a wide variety of models. We propose that YbeY, in association with the ribosomal protein uS11 and the assembly GTPase Era, plays a critical role in the biogenesis of the small ribosomal subunit, and more specifically its platform region, in diverse genetic systems of bacterial type.

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