Reduced changes in protein compared to mRNA levels across non-proliferating tissues

Kobi Perl, Kathy Ushakov, Yair Pozniak, Ofer Yizhar-Barnea, Yoni Bhonker, Shaked Shivatzki, Tamar Geiger, Karen B. Avraham*, Ron Shamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The quantitative relations between RNA and protein are fundamental to biology and are still not fully understood. Across taxa, it was demonstrated that the protein-to-mRNA ratio in steady state varies in a direction that lessens the change in protein levels as a result of changes in the transcript abundance. Evidence for this behavior in tissues is sparse. We tested this phenomenon in new data that we produced for the mouse auditory system, and in previously published tissue datasets. A joint analysis of the transcriptome and proteome was performed across four datasets: inner-ear mouse tissues, mouse organ tissues, lymphoblastoid primate samples and human cancer cell lines. Results: We show that the protein levels are more conserved than the mRNA levels in all datasets, and that changes in transcription are associated with translational changes that exert opposite effects on the final protein level, in all tissues except cancer. Finally, we observe that some functions are enriched in the inner ear on the mRNA level but not in protein. Conclusions: We suggest that partial buffering between transcription and translation ensures that proteins can be made rapidly in response to a stimulus. Accounting for the buffering can improve the prediction of protein levels from mRNA levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number305
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 18 Apr 2017


FundersFunder number
Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics
I-CORE Centers of Excellence in Gene Regulation in Complex Human Disease41/11
National Institutes of Health
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication DisordersR01DC011835
Israel Science Foundation1320/11, 2033/16, 317/ 13
Tel Aviv University
Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel0601145502


    • Cochlea
    • Inner ear
    • Mass spectrometry
    • RNA-seq
    • Translation


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