Genome‐Wide Annotation and Quantitation of Translation by Ribosome Profiling

Nicholas T. Ingolia1, Gloria A. Brar2, Silvia Rouskin2, Anna M. McGeachy3, Jonathan S. Weissman2

1 Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Baltimore, Maryland, 2 California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, San Francisco, California, 3 Department of Biology, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Molecular Biology
Unit Number:  Unit 4.18
DOI:  10.1002/0471142727.mb0418s103
Online Posting Date:  July, 2013
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Protein translation represents a key regulated step in gene expression. Here, we present procedures for comprehensive and quantitative analysis of translation in vivo. This approach, termed ribosome profiling, makes it possible to directly measure the rate of protein synthesis and to reveal the full range of proteins translated by the cell, including unexpected micropeptides and alternative protein isoforms. Ribosome profiling relies on nuclease footprinting of ribosomes onto mRNAs followed by the analysis of these ribosome‐protected fragments by deep sequencing. The protocol presented here encompasses technical optimizations to capture ribosomes at their positions in vivo, perform high‐resolution nuclease footprinting, and prepare deep‐sequencing libraries from these footprints. The alignment of ribosome footprint sequences is discussed as well. The presence of aligned ribosome footprints indicates ribosome occupancy and thus translation, and the density of these footprints reports on the rate of translation. The unit also discusses the use of the translation inhibitor harringtonine to immobilize initiating ribosomes specifically and thereby map sites of translation initiation. Experimental manipulations for ribosome profiling take roughly 5 to 7 days, and sequencing and analysis require an additional 4 to 5 days. © 2013 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: genomics; translation; next‐generation; sequencing

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Basic Protocol 1: Ribosome Profiling in Cultured Mammalian Cells
  • Alternate Protocol 1: Pre‐Treatment of Cultured Cells with Elongation Inhibitors
  • Alternate Protocol 2: Pre‐Treatment of Cultured Cells with Initiation Inhibitors
  • Support Protocol 1: Primary Analysis of Ribosome Profiling Data
  • Reagents and Solutions
  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
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Basic Protocol 1: Ribosome Profiling in Cultured Mammalian Cells

  • Cultures of adherent mammalian cells, e.g., mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), HEK293 cells (Ingolia et al., ), HeLa cells, mouse neutrophils (Guo, ), or PC3 cells (Hsieh, ), grown in 10‐cm dishes
  • Phosphate‐buffered saline, pH 7.2 (PBS, appendix 22), ice cold
  • Lysis buffer (see recipe), ice cold
  • 100 U/µl RNase I
  • 20 U/µl SUPERase‐In (Life Technologies)
  • 1 M sucrose cushion (see recipe), ice cold
  • miRNeasy RNA isolation kit (Qiagen)
  • 15 mg/ml GlycoBlue
  • 10 mM Tris⋅Cl, pH 8 ( appendix 22)
  • 10 µM upper‐ and lower‐size marker oligoribonucleotides (Phos indicates 3′ phosphorylation):
  • 10,000× SYBR Gold (Life Technologies)
  • 1× TBE ( appendix 22)
  • 10× T4 polynucleotide kinase buffer
  • 10 U/µl T4 polynucleotide kinase
  • 0.5 µg/µl preadenylylated 3′ linker (rApp indicates 5′ adenylylation and X indicates a blocked 3′ terminus):
  • 10× T4 RNA ligase 2 buffer
  • 50% (w/v) PEG 8000
  • 200 U/µl T4 RNA ligase 2, truncated
  • 1.25 µM reverse transcription primer (Phos indicates 5′‐phosphorylation and ‐(SpC18)‐ indicates a hexa‐ethyleneglycol spacer):
  • 5× first‐strand buffer
  • 10 mM each dNTP mix ( appendix 22)
  • 0.1 M dithiothreitol ( appendix 22)
  • 200 U/µl M‐MuLV reverse transcriptase, RNase H
  • 1 N NaOH ( appendix 22)
  • 10× CircLigase buffer
  • 1 mM ATP ( appendix 22)
  • 50 mM MnCl 2 ( appendix 22)
  • 100 U/µl CircLigase I (Epicentre)
  • Subtraction oligo mix (see recipe)
  • 20× SSC ( appendix 22)
  • MyOne C1 Streptavidin DynaBeads (Life Technologies)
  • 1× and 2× bind/wash buffer (see recipe)
  • 5× Phusion HF buffer
  • 100 µM forward library PCR primer:
  • 100 µM indexed reverse library PCR primers (NNNNNN indicates the reverse complement of the index sequence captured during Illumina sequencing):
  • 2 U/µl Phusion polymerase
  • QuantiFluor dsDNA System (Promega)
  • BioAnalyzer high‐sensitivity DNA kit (Agilent)
  • TruSeq SBS v3 kit, 50 cycles (Illumina)
  • TruSeq SR Cluster kit v3, cBot, HiSeq (Illumina)
  • Aspirator
  • Cell lifter
  • 1.5‐ml non‐stick, RNase‐free microcentrifuge tubes
  • 26‐G needle
  • 1‐ml syringe
  • 13 × 51–mm polycarbonate ultracentrifuge tube
  • Optima TLX ultracentrifuge (Beckman Coulter)
  • TLA 100.3 rotor (Beckman Coulter)
  • Blue‐light transilluminator
  • 37°C, 70°C, and 80°C heating blocks
  • 0.2‐ml PCR tubes
  • Thermal cycler
  • DynaMag‐2 magnetic separation rack (Life Technologies)
  • PCR tube strips
  • Fluorimeter
  • 2100 BioAnalyzer (Agilent)
  • GAII or HiSeq deep sequencer (Illumina)
  • Additional reagents and equipment for purification and concentration of DNA and RNA (unit 2.1; Moore and Dowhan, ), non‐denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and subsequent recovery of DNA (unit 2.7; Chory and Pollard, ), and denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and subsequent recovery of DNA and RNA (unit 2.12; Ellington and Pollard, )

Alternate Protocol 1: Pre‐Treatment of Cultured Cells with Elongation Inhibitors

  • Adherent cultured cells (see Basic Protocol, Materials)
  • 100 mg/ml cycloheximide in DMSO or 100 mg/ml emetine in DMSO

Alternate Protocol 2: Pre‐Treatment of Cultured Cells with Initiation Inhibitors

  • Adherent cultured cells (see Basic Protocol, Materials)
  • 2 mg/ml harringtonine in DMSO or 50 mM lactimidomycin in DMSO

Support Protocol 1: Primary Analysis of Ribosome Profiling Data

  • 64‐bit computer running Linux with at least 4 GB of RAM
  • FastX‐toolkit (
  • Bowtie software (http://bowtie‐
  • TopHat software (
  • SAMtools software (
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Key References
  Ingolia et al., 2009. See above.
  Describes the ribosome profiling technique and its application in budding yeast.
  Ingolia et al., 2011. See above.
  Describes the application of ribosome profiling and initiation site mapping in mammalian cells.
  Ingolia et al., 2012. See above.
  Original publication of the ribosome profiling protocol presented here.
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