Translation complex profile sequencing to study the in vivo dynamics of mRNA-ribosome interactions during translation initiation, elongation and termination

Nikolay E. Shirokikh, Stuart K Archer, Traude H Beilharz, David Powell, Thomas Preiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Messenger RNA (mRNA) translation is a tightly controlled process that is integral to gene expression. It features intricate and dynamic interactions of the small and large subunits of the ribosome with mRNAs, aided by multiple auxiliary factors during distinct initiation, elongation and termination phases. The recently developed ribosome profiling method can generate transcriptome-wide surveys of translation and its regulation. Ribosome profiling records the footprints of fully assembled ribosomes along mRNAs and thus primarily interrogates the elongation phase of translation. Importantly, it does not monitor multiple substeps of initiation and termination that involve complexes between the small ribosomal subunit (SSU) and mRNA. Here we describe a related method, termed 'translation complex profile sequencing' (TCP-seq), that is uniquely capable of recording positions of any type of ribosome-mRNA complex transcriptome-wide. It uses fast covalent fixation of translation complexes in live cells, followed by RNase footprinting of translation intermediates and their separation into complexes involving either the full ribosome or the SSU. The footprints derived from each type of complex are then deep-sequenced separately, generating native distribution profiles during the elongation, as well as the initiation and termination stages of translation. We provide the full TCP-seq protocol for Saccharomyces cerevisiae liquid suspension culture, including a data analysis pipeline. The protocol takes â 1/43 weeks to complete by a researcher who is well acquainted with standard molecular biology techniques and who has some experience in ultracentrifugation and the preparation of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) libraries. Basic Bash and UNIX/Linux command skills are required to use the bioinformatics tools provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-731
Number of pages35
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • next-generation sequencing
  • ribosome
  • RNA
  • RNA sequencing

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