Protein synthesis rates and ribosome occupancies reveal determinants of translation elongation rates

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Jul 23;116(30):15023-15032. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1817299116. Epub 2019 Jul 10.


Although protein synthesis dynamics has been studied both with theoretical models and by profiling ribosome footprints, the determinants of ribosome flux along open reading frames (ORFs) are not fully understood. Combining measurements of protein synthesis rate with ribosome footprinting data, we here inferred translation initiation and elongation rates for over a 1,000 ORFs in exponentially growing wild-type yeast cells. We found that the amino acid composition of synthesized proteins is as important a determinant of translation elongation rate as parameters related to codon and transfer RNA (tRNA) adaptation. We did not find evidence of ribosome collisions curbing the protein output of yeast transcripts, either in high translation conditions associated with exponential growth, or in strains in which deletion of individual ribosomal protein (RP) genes leads to globally increased or decreased translation. Slow translation elongation is characteristic of RP-encoding transcripts, which have markedly lower protein output compared with other transcripts with equally high ribosome densities.

Keywords: TASEP; protein charge; ribosomal proteins; translation; yeast.

MeSH terms

  • Codon / chemistry
  • Codon / metabolism
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Peptide Chain Elongation, Translational*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / genetics*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics*


  • Codon
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • RNA, Transfer