A Plant Biologist's Toolbox to Study Translation

Front Plant Sci. 2018 Jul 2;9:873. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00873. eCollection 2018.


Across a broad range of species and biological questions, more and more studies are incorporating translation data to better assess how gene regulation occurs at the level of protein synthesis. The inclusion of translation data improves upon, and has been shown to be more accurate than, transcriptional studies alone. However, there are many different techniques available to measure translation and it can be difficult, especially for young or aspiring scientists, to determine which methods are best applied in specific situations. We have assembled this review in order to enhance the understanding and promote the utilization of translational methods in plant biology. We cover a broad range of methods to measure changes in global translation (e.g., radiolabeling, polysome profiling, or puromycylation), translation of single genes (e.g., fluorescent reporter constructs, toeprinting, or ribosome density mapping), sequencing-based methods to uncover the entire translatome (e.g., Ribo-seq or translating ribosome affinity purification), and mass spectrometry-based methods to identify changes in the proteome (e.g., stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture or bioorthogonal noncanonical amino acid tagging). The benefits and limitations of each method are discussed with a particular note of how applications from other model systems might be extended for use in plants. In order to make this burgeoning field more accessible to students and newer scientists, our review includes an extensive glossary to define key terms.

Keywords: Ribo-seq; TRAP; amino acid tagging; polysome profiling; reporter; ribosome; toeprinting; translation.

Publication types

  • Review