Translating mRNAs strongly correlate to proteins in a multivariate manner and their translation ratios are phenotype specific

Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 May;41(9):4743-54. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt178. Epub 2013 Mar 21.


As a well-known phenomenon, total mRNAs poorly correlate to proteins in their abundances as reported. Recent findings calculated with bivariate models suggested even poorer such correlation, whereas focusing on the translating mRNAs (ribosome nascent-chain complex-bound mRNAs, RNC-mRNAs) subset. In this study, we analysed the relative abundances of mRNAs, RNC-mRNAs and proteins on genome-wide scale, comparing human lung cancer A549 and H1299 cells with normal human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cells, respectively. As discovered, a strong correlation between RNC-mRNAs and proteins in their relative abundances could be established through a multivariate linear model by integrating the mRNA length as a key factor. The R(2) reached 0.94 and 0.97 in A549 versus HBE and H1299 versus HBE comparisons, respectively. This correlation highlighted that the mRNA length significantly contributes to the translational modulation, especially to the translational initiation, favoured by its correlation with the mRNA translation ratio (TR) as observed. We found TR is highly phenotype specific, which was substantiated by both pathway analysis and biased TRs of the splice variants of BDP1 gene, which is a key transcription factor of transfer RNAs. These findings revealed, for the first time, the intrinsic and genome-wide translation modulations at translatomic level in human cells at steady-state, which are tightly correlated to the protein abundance and functionally relevant to cellular phenotypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Phenotype*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteome
  • RNA Splicing
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry
  • Ribosomes / chemistry
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcription Factor TFIIIB / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factor TFIIIB / genetics
  • Up-Regulation


  • BDP1 protein, human
  • Proteins
  • Proteome
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factor TFIIIB