Modelling the effect of ribosome mobility on the rate of protein synthesis


Abstract: Translation is one of the main steps in the synthesis of proteins. It consists of ribosomes that translate sequences of nucleotides encoded on mRNA into polypeptide sequences of amino acids. Ribosomes bound to mRNA move unidirectionally, while unbound ribosomes diffuse in the cytoplasm. It has been hypothesized that finite diffusion of ribosomes plays an important role in ribosome recycling and that mRNA circularization enhances the efficiency of translation, see e.g. Lodish et al. (Molecular cell biology, 8th edn, W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, 2016). In order to estimate the effect of cytoplasmic diffusion on the rate of translation, we consider a totally asymmetric simple exclusion process coupled to a finite diffusive reservoir, which we call the ribosome transport model with diffusion. In this model, we derive an analytical expression for the rate of protein synthesis as a function of the diffusion constant of ribosomes, which is corroborated with results from continuous-time Monte Carlo simulations. Using a wide range of biological relevant parameters, we conclude that diffusion is not a rate limiting factor in translation initiation because diffusion is fast enough in biological cells. Graphic abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

European Physical Journal E
Izaak Neri
Izaak Neri
Lecturer in Disordered Systems