Polysome Profiling in Leishmania, Human Cells and Mouse Testis

Zemfira N. Karamysheva, E. B. Tikhonova, P. N. Grozdanov, J. C. Huffman, K. R. Baca, A. Karamyshev, R. B. Denison, C. C. MacDonald, Kai Zhang, A. L. Karamyshev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Proper protein expression at the right time and in the right amounts is the basis of normal cell function and survival in a fast-changing environment. For a long time, the gene expression studies were dominated by research on the transcriptional level. However, the steady-state levels of mRNAs do not correlate well with protein production, and the translatability of mRNAs varies greatly depending on the conditions. In some organisms, like the parasite Leishmania, the protein expression is regulated mostly at the translational level. Recent studies demonstrated that protein translation dysregulation is associated with cancer, metabolic, neurodegenerative and other human diseases. Polysome profiling is a powerful method to study protein translation regulation. It allows to measure the translational status of individual mRNAs or examine translation on a genome-wide scale. The basis of this technique is the separation of polysomes, ribosomes, their subunits and free mRNAs during centrifugation of a cytoplasmic lysate through a sucrose gradient. Here, we present a universal polysome profiling protocol used on three different models - parasite Leishmania major, cultured human cells and animal tissues. Leishmania cells freely grow in suspension and cultured human cells grow in adherent monolayer, while mouse testis represents an animal tissue sample. Thus, the technique is adapted to all of these sources. The protocol for the analysis of polysomal fractions includes detection of individual mRNA levels by RT-qPCR, proteins by Western blot and analysis of ribosomal RNAs by electrophoresis. The method can be further extended by examination of mRNAs association with the ribosome on a transcriptome level by deep RNA-seq and analysis of ribosome-associated proteins by mass spectroscopy of the fractions. The method can be easily adjusted to other biological models.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
StatePublished - Apr 2018


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