An evolutionarily conserved mechanism for controlling the efficiency of protein translation

Tamir Tuller, Asaf Carmi, Kalin Vestsigian, Sivan Navon, Yuval Dorfan, John Zaborske, Tao Pan, Orna Dahan, Itay Furman, Yitzhak Pilpel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

629 Scopus citations


Recent years have seen intensive progress in measuring protein translation. However, the contributions of coding sequences to the efficiency of the process remain unclear. Here, we identify a universally conserved profile of translation efficiency along mRNAs computed based on adaptation between coding sequences and the tRNA pool. In this profile, the first ∼30-50 codons are, on average, translated with a low efficiency. Additionally, in eukaryotes, the last ∼50 codons show the highest efficiency over the full coding sequence. The profile accurately predicts position-dependent ribosomal density along yeast genes. These data suggest that translation speed and, as a consequence, ribosomal density are encoded by coding sequences and the tRNA pool. We suggest that the slow " ramp" at the beginning of mRNAs serves as a late stage of translation initiation, forming an optimal and robust means to reduce ribosomal traffic jams, thus minimizing the cost of protein expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-354
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
FP6 Programme
National Institute of General Medical SciencesT32GM007183
Ben May Charitable Trust
European Commission
European Research Council


    • Proteins


    Dive into the research topics of 'An evolutionarily conserved mechanism for controlling the efficiency of protein translation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this