Multi-Color Single-Molecule Imaging Uncovers Extensive Heterogeneity in mRNA Decoding

Sanne Boersma, Deepak Khuperkar, Bram M P Verhagen, Stijn Sonneveld, Jonathan B Grimm, Luke D Lavis, Marvin E Tanenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

mRNA translation is a key step in decoding genetic information. Genetic decoding is surprisingly heterogeneous because multiple distinct polypeptides can be synthesized from a single mRNA sequence. To study translational heterogeneity, we developed the MoonTag, a fluorescence labeling system to visualize translation of single mRNAs. When combined with the orthogonal SunTag system, the MoonTag enables dual readouts of translation, greatly expanding the possibilities to interrogate complex translational heterogeneity. By placing MoonTag and SunTag sequences in different translation reading frames, each driven by distinct translation start sites, start site selection of individual ribosomes can be visualized in real time. We find that start site selection is largely stochastic but that the probability of using a particular start site differs among mRNA molecules and can be dynamically regulated over time. This study provides key insights into translation start site selection heterogeneity and provides a powerful toolbox to visualize complex translation dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-472.e19
JournalCell
Volume178
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2019

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    Boersma, S., Khuperkar, D., Verhagen, B. M. P., Sonneveld, S., Grimm, J. B., Lavis, L. D., & Tanenbaum, M. E. (2019). Multi-Color Single-Molecule Imaging Uncovers Extensive Heterogeneity in mRNA Decoding. Cell, 178(2), 458-472.e19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2019.05.001