Translational sensitivity of the Escherichia coli genome to fluctuating tRNA availability

Sibylle E Wohlgemuth, Thomas E Gorochowski, Johannes A Roubos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
292 Downloads (Pure)


The synthesis of protein from messenger RNA during translation is a highly dynamic process that plays a key role in controlling the efficiency and fidelity of genome-wide protein expression. The availability of aminoacylated transfer RNA (tRNA) is a major factor influencing the speed of ribosomal movement, which depending on codon choices, varies considerably along a transcript. Furthermore, it has been shown experimentally that tRNA availability can vary significantly under different growth and stress conditions, offering the cell a way to adapt translational dynamics across the genome. Existing models of translation have neglected fluctuations of tRNA pools, instead assuming fixed tRNA availabilities over time. This has lead to an incomplete understanding of this process. Here, we show for the entire Escherichia coli genome how and to what extent translational speed profiles, which capture local aspects of translational elongation, respond to measured shifts in tRNA availability. We find that translational profiles across the genome are affected to differing degrees, with genes that are essential or related to fundamental processes such as translation, being more robust than those linked to regulation. Furthermore, we reveal how fluctuating tRNA availability influences profiles of specific sequences known to play a significant role in translational control of gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8021-33
Number of pages13
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number17
Early online date10 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013

Structured keywords

  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • Codon
  • Escherichia coli
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Transfer

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