Ribosome profiling provides information on the position of ribosomes on mRNA on a genomic scale. Although this information is often used to detect changes in gene expression under different conditions, it also has great potential for yielding insight into the mechanism and regulation of protein synthesis itself. First developed in yeast, ribosome profiling involves the isolation and sequencing of ribosome-protected mRNA fragments generated by nuclease treatment. Since the application of ribosome profiling in bacteria has been problematic, we report here a systematically optimized protocol for E. coli that we have used with success for other bacteria as well. Cells are harvested by flash-freezing cultures directly in liquid nitrogen. After lysis, translation is arrested by high magnesium concentration without the use of antibiotics. These improvements eliminate artifacts induced by harvesting cells by centrifugation or filtration and by use of chloramphenicol to arrest translation. These improvements are especially appropriate for studies where the exact position of the ribosome is critical, and not merely the number of ribosomes per message, such as studies aimed at monitoring differences in local elongation rates.
Keywords: Bacteria; Gene expression; Ribosome pausing; Ribosome profiling; Translational efficiency.