Identifying Translationally Regulated Genes During Stem Cell Differentiation

Prabha Sampath1, Qian Yi Lee2, Vivek Tanavde2

1 Institute of Medical Biology, Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), Singapore, 2 Bioinformatics Institute, Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology
Unit Number:  Unit 1B.8
DOI:  10.1002/9780470151808.sc01b08s18
Online Posting Date:  September, 2011
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This unit describes a protocol for genome‐wide identification of translationally regulated genes during embryonic stem cell differentiation using integrated transcriptome and translation state profiling. Actively translated mRNAs associated with multiple ribosomes (known as polysomes) and translationally inactive mRNAs sequestered in messenger ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs), can be separated by sucrose gradient fractionation based on size. Because the number of ribosomes on a transcript correlates with the rate of synthesis of its encoded protein, this allows an operational distinction between well‐translated and poorly translated mRNA molecules. In this analysis, fractionated mRNA and total RNA are used to probe microarrays to identify differentially translated genes. Curr. Protoc. Stem Cell Biol. 18:1B.8.1‐1B.8.13. © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: embryonic stem cells; translational control; polysome analysis

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Basic Protocol 1: Preparation of Total and Fractionated RNA for Microarray Analysis
  • Support Protocol 1: RNA Quality Control by Bioanalysis
  • Basic Protocol 2: Microarray Analysis of Fractionated and Total RNA
  • Basic Protocol 3: Analysis of Microarray Data
  • Reagents and Solutions
  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
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Basic Protocol 1: Preparation of Total and Fractionated RNA for Microarray Analysis

  • Sucrose gradient solutions (see recipe)
  • Mouse ESCs grown to ∼5 × 106 cells/dish in two 10‐cm dishes per experimental condition (undifferentiated control and RA‐treated)
  • Cycloheximide
  • Sterile PBS
  • Lysis buffer (see recipe), ice cold
  • Nuclease‐free water
  • 10% (w/v) SDS
  • Synthetic poly(A) RNA (Affymetrix, cat. no. 900433)
  • Luciferase RNA (Promega)
  • RNeasy RNA isolation minikit (Qiagen, cat. no. 74104)
  • 14‐ml conical polypropylene centrifuge tubes (Falcon, cat. no. 331372)
  • Cell scrapers
  • 1.5‐ml microcentrifuge tubes
  • Spectrophotometer
  • Ultracentrifuge (Beckman) with SW40‐Ti swinging bucket rotor
  • Gradient fraction collector (ISCO)
  • UV detector (ISCO UA‐6 or equivalent)
  • NanoDrop 8000 spectrophotometer v3.7 (Thermoscientific)
  • Additional reagents and equipment for bioanalysis (see protocol 2)
NOTE: Cell culture procedures should be performed in a Class II biological hazard flow hood or a laminar‐flow hood. Cell culture incubations are performed in a humidified 37°C, 5% CO 2 incubator.NOTE: All solutions and equipment must be sterile, and proper aseptic technique should be used accordingly.

Support Protocol 1: RNA Quality Control by Bioanalysis

  • Purified RNA, pools 1 and 2 (see protocol 1)
  • RNA 6000 Nano Kit (Agilent Technologies, cat. no. 5067‐1512)
  • 0.5‐ml RNase‐free microcentrifuge tube
  • RNA Nano Chip (Agilent Technologies, cat. no. 5067‐1511)
  • BioAnalyzer 2100 (Agilent Technologies)

Basic Protocol 2: Microarray Analysis of Fractionated and Total RNA

  • Pool 1, pool 2, and total RNA from control and treated cell cultures (see protocol 1)
  • TargetAmp‐Nano Labeling Kit for Illumina Expression BeadChip (Epicentre, cat. no. TAN07924)
  • RNeasy RNA isolation minikit (Qiagen, cat. no. 74104)
  • Absolute molecular‐grade ethanol
  • Streptavidin Cy3 (GE Healthcare, cat. no. PA43001)
  • NanoDrop 8000 spectrophotometer v3.7 (Thermoscientific)
  • RNA microarray: HumanWG‐6 v3.0 Whole‐Genome Expression BeadChip (Illumina)
  • BeadArray Reader (Illumina)

Basic Protocol 3: Analysis of Microarray Data

  • Illumina BeadChip results (see protocol 3)
  • Partek Genomics Suite (
  • Partek Gene Expression Plug‐In
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Literature Cited

Literature Cited
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