bims-micpro Biomed News
on Discovery and characterization of microproteins
Issue of 2022‒02‒20
three papers selected by
Thomas Farid Martínez
University of California, Irvine

  1. Front Genet. 2021 ;12 796060
      Advances in genomics and molecular biology have revealed an abundance of small open reading frames (sORFs) across all types of transcripts. While these sORFs are often assumed to be non-functional, many have been implicated in physiological functions and a significant number of sORFs have been described in human diseases. Thus, sORFs may represent a hidden repository of functional elements that could serve as therapeutic targets. Unlike protein-coding genes, it is not necessarily the encoded peptide of an sORF that enacts its function, sometimes simply the act of translating an sORF might have a regulatory role. Indeed, the most studied sORFs are located in the 5'UTRs of coding transcripts and can have a regulatory impact on the translation of the downstream protein-coding sequence. However, sORFs have also been abundantly identified in non-coding RNAs including lncRNAs, circular RNAs and ribosomal RNAs suggesting that sORFs may be diverse in function. Of the many different experimental methods used to discover sORFs, the most commonly used are ribosome profiling and mass spectrometry. These can confirm interactions between transcripts and ribosomes and the production of a peptide, respectively. Extensions to ribosome profiling, which also capture scanning ribosomes, have further made it possible to see how sORFs impact the translation initiation of mRNAs. While high-throughput techniques have made the identification of sORFs less difficult, defining their function, if any, is typically more challenging. Together, the abundance and potential function of many of these sORFs argues for the necessity of including sORFs in gene annotations and systematically characterizing these to understand their potential functional roles. In this review, we will focus on the high-throughput methods used in the detection and characterization of sORFs and discuss techniques for validation and functional characterization.
    Keywords:  SEPs; computational tools; mass spectrometry; ribosome profiling; sORFs
  2. Methods Mol Biol. 2022 ;2428 41-62
      Protein synthesis is a highly regulated essential process. As such, it is subjected to substantial regulation in response to stress. One hallmark of the Integrated Stress Response (ISR) is the immediate shutdown of most translation through phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of translation initiation factor eIF2 and activation of eIF4E binding proteins. While these posttranslational modifications largely inhibit cap-dependent translation, many mRNA resist this inhibition by alternative translation mechanisms involving cis-regulatory sequences and structures in 5' transcript leaders, including upstream Open Reading Frames (uORFs), Internal Ribosome Entry Sites (IRESes), and Cap-Independent Translation Elements (CITEs). Studies of uORF and IRES activity are often performed on a gene-by-gene basis; however, high-throughput methods have recently emerged. Here, we describe a protocol for Polysome Library Sequencing (PoLib-Seq; Fig. 1), a multiplexed assay of reporter gene translation that can be used during the ISR. A designer library of reporter RNAs are transfected into tissue-culture cells, and their translation is assayed via sucrose gradient fractionation followed by high-throughput sequencing. As an example, we include PoLib-seq results simultaneously assaying translation of wildtype and uORF mutant human ATF4 reporter RNAs, recapitulating the known function of uORF1 in resisting translational inhibition during the ISR.
    Keywords:  Massively parallel reporter assay; Polysome gradient fractionation; mRNA translation; uORFs
  3. Cancer Biol Med. 2022 Feb 14. pii: j.issn.2095-3941.2021.0678. [Epub ahead of print]