Ribosome recycling induces optimal translation rate at low ribosomal availability

E. Marshall* (Corresponding Author), I. Stansfield, M. C. Romano* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


During eukaryotic cellular protein synthesis, ribosomal translation is made more efficient through interaction between the two ends of the messenger RNA (mRNA). Ribosomes reaching the 3′ end of the mRNA can thus recycle and begin translation again on the same mRNA, the so-called ‘closed-loop’ model. Using a driven diffusion lattice model of translation, we study the effects of ribosome recycling on the dynamics of ribosome flow and density on the mRNA. We show that ribosome recycling induces a substantial increase in ribosome current. Furthermore, for sufficiently large values of the recycling rate, the lattice does not transition directly from low to high ribosome density, as seen in lattice models without recycling. Instead, a maximal current phase becomes accessible for much lower values of the initiation rate, and multiple phase transitions occur over a wide region of the phase plane. Crucially, we show that in the presence of ribosome recycling, mRNAs can exhibit a peak in protein production at low values of the initiation rate, beyond which translation rate decreases. This has important implications for translation of certain mRNAs, suggesting that there is an optimal concentration of ribosomes at which protein synthesis is maximal, and beyond which translational efficiency is impaired.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20140589
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number98
Early online date9 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding statement
The authors thank BBSRC (BB/F00513/X1, BB/I020926/1 and DTG) and SULSA for funding.

The authors thank R. Allen, L. Ciandrini, B. Gorgoni and P. Greulich for very helpful discussions and careful reading of the manuscript.


  • ribosome recycling
  • translation
  • totally asymmetric simple exclusion process
  • RLI1
  • ABCE1


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