Translation regulation gets its 'omics' moment

Scott Kuersten, Agnes Radek, Christine Vogel, Luiz O.F. Penalva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The fate of cellular RNA is largely determined by complex networks of protein-RNA interactions through ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes. Despite their relatively short half-life, transcripts associate with many different proteins that process, modify, translate, and degrade the RNA. Following biogenesis some mRNPs are immediately directed to translation and produce proteins, but many are diverted and regulated by processes including miRNA-mediated mechanisms, transport and localization, as well as turnover. Because of this complex interplay estimates of steady-state expression by methods such as RNAseq alone cannot capture critical aspects of cellular fate, environmental response, tumorigenesis, or gene expression regulation. More selective and integrative tools are needed to measure protein-RNA complexes and the regulatory processes involved. One focus area is measurements of the transcriptome associated with ribosomes and translation. These so-called polysome or ribosome profiling techniques can evaluate translation efficiency as well as the interplay between translation initiation, elongation, and termination-subject areas not well understood at a systems biology level. Ribosome profiling is a highly promising technique that provides mRNA positional information of ribosome occupancy, potentially bridging the gap between gene expression (i.e., RNAseq and microarray analysis) and protein quantification (i.e., mass spectrometry). In combination with methods such as RNA immunoprecipitation, miRNA profiling, or proteomics, we obtain a fresh view of global post-transcriptional and translational gene regulation. In addition, these techniques also provide new insight into new regulatory elements, such as alternative open reading frames, and translation regulation under different conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-630
Number of pages14
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: RNA
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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