Differential Translation Tunes Uneven Production of Operon-Encoded Proteins

Tessa Quax*, Yuri I. Wolf, Jasper J. Koehorst, Omri Wurtzel, Richard van der Oost, Wenqi Ran, Fabian Blombach, Kira S. Makarova, Stan J.J. Brouns, Anthony C. Forster, E. Gerhart H. Wagner, Rotem Sorek, Eugene V. Koonin, John van der Oost*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Clustering of functionally related genes in operons allows for coregulated gene expression in prokaryotes. This is advantageous when equal amounts of gene products are required. Production of protein complexes with an uneven stoichiometry, however, requires tuning mechanisms to generate subunits in appropriate relative quantities. Using comparative genomic analysis, we show that differential translation is a key determinant of modulated expression of genes clustered in operons and that codon bias generally is the best in silico indicator of unequal protein production. Variable ribosome density profiles of polycistronic transcripts correlate strongly with differential translation patterns. In addition, we provide experimental evidence that de novo initiation of translation can occur at intercistronic sites, allowing for differential translation of any gene irrespective of its position on a polycistronic messenger. Thus, modulation of translation efficiency appears to be a universal mode of control in bacteria and archaea that allows for differential production of operon-encoded proteins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)938-944
Number of pages7
JournalCell reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12-Sep-2013
Externally publishedYes

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