Polysomal mRNA Association and Gene Expression in Trypanosoma brucei

Michele Tinti, Anna Kelner-Mirôn, Lizzie J. Marriott, Michael A. J. Ferguson (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The contrasting physiological environments of Trypanosoma brucei procyclic (insect vector) and bloodstream (mammalian host) forms necessitates deployment of different molecular processes and, therefore, changes in protein expression. Transcriptional regulation is unusual in T. brucei because the arrangement of genes is polycistronic; however, genes which are transcribed together are subsequently cleaved into separate mRNAs by trans-splicing. Following pre-mRNA processing, the regulation of mature mRNA stability is a tightly controlled cellular process. While many stage-specific transcripts have been identified, previous studies using RNA-seq suggest that changes in overall transcript level do not necessarily reflect the abundance of the corresponding protein.

Methods: To better understand the regulation of gene expression in T. brucei, we performed a bioinformatic analysis of RNA-seq on total, sub-polysomal, and polysomal mRNA samples. We further cross-referenced our dataset with a previously published proteomics dataset to identify new protein coding sequences.

Results: Our analyses showed that several long non-coding RNAs are more abundant in the sub-polysome samples, which possibly implicates them in regulating cellular differentiation in T. brucei. We also improved the annotation of the T.brucei genome by identifying new putative protein coding transcripts that were confirmed by mass spectrometry data.

Conclusions: Several long non-coding RNAs are more abundant in the sub-polysome cellular fractions and might pay a role in the regulation of gene expression. We hope that these data will be of wide general interest, as well as being of specific value to researchers studying gene regulation expression and life stage transitions in T. brucei.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
Number of pages38
JournalWellcome Open Research
Early online date21 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Bloodstream form
  • Machine learning
  • MRNA
  • Polysome
  • Procyclic form
  • RNA-seq
  • Trypanosoma brucei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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