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Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 Jan 9;46(1):e3. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx940.

Polysome-profiling in small tissue samples.

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Department of Oncology-Pathology, Science for Life Laboratory, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
International Research Center, A.C.Camargo Cancer Center, São Paulo, Brazil.
Department of Pathology, A.C.Camargo Cancer Center, São Paulo, Brazil.


Polysome-profiling is commonly used to study translatomes and applies laborious extraction of efficiently translated mRNA (associated with >3 ribosomes) from a large volume across many fractions. This property makes polysome-profiling inconvenient for larger experimental designs or samples with low RNA amounts. To address this, we optimized a non-linear sucrose gradient which reproducibly enriches for efficiently translated mRNA in only one or two fractions, thereby reducing sample handling 5-10-fold. The technique generates polysome-associated RNA with a quality reflecting the starting material and, when coupled with smart-seq2 single-cell RNA sequencing, translatomes in small tissues from biobanks can be obtained. Translatomes acquired using optimized non-linear gradients resemble those obtained with the standard approach employing linear gradients. Polysome-profiling using optimized non-linear gradients in serum starved HCT-116 cells with or without p53 showed that p53 status associates with changes in mRNA abundance and translational efficiency leading to changes in protein levels. Moreover, p53 status also induced translational buffering whereby changes in mRNA levels are buffered at the level of mRNA translation. Thus, here we present a polysome-profiling technique applicable to large study designs, primary cells and frozen tissue samples such as those collected in biobanks.

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