Humans and other commonly used model organisms are resistant to cycloheximide-mediated biases in ribosome profiling experiments

Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 24;12(1):5094. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25411-y.


Ribosome profiling measures genome-wide translation dynamics at sub-codon resolution. Cycloheximide (CHX), a widely used translation inhibitor to arrest ribosomes in these experiments, has been shown to induce biases in yeast, questioning its use. However, whether such biases are present in datasets of other organisms including humans is unknown. Here we compare different CHX-treatment conditions in human cells and yeast in parallel experiments using an optimized protocol. We find that human ribosomes are not susceptible to conformational restrictions by CHX, nor does it distort gene-level measurements of ribosome occupancy, measured decoding speed or the translational ramp. Furthermore, CHX-induced codon-specific biases on ribosome occupancy are not detectable in human cells or other model organisms. This shows that reported biases of CHX are species-specific and that CHX does not affect the outcome of ribosome profiling experiments in most settings. Our findings provide a solid framework to conduct and analyze ribosome profiling experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bias
  • Codon / metabolism
  • Cycloheximide / pharmacology*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Protein Biosynthesis / drug effects
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Ribosomes / chemistry*
  • Ribosomes / drug effects*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Species Specificity


  • Codon
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Cycloheximide