Kinetic modelling indicates that fast-translating codons can coordinate cotranslational protein folding by avoiding misfolded intermediates

Edward P. O'brien, Michele Vendruscolo, Christopher M. Dobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


It has been observed for several proteins that slowing down the rate at which individual codons are translated can increase their probability of cotranslational protein folding, while speeding up codon translation can decrease it. Here we investigate whether or not this inverse relationship between translation speed and the cotranslational folding probability is a general phenomenon or if other scenarios are possible. We first derive chemical kinetic equations that relate individual codon translation rates to the probability that a domain will fold, populate an intermediate or misfold, and examine the cotranslational folding scenarios that are possible within these models. We find that speeding up codon translation through misfolding-prone segments can, in some cases, increase the folding probability of a domain immediately before the nascent protein is released from the ribosome and decrease its chances of misfolding. Thus, for some proteins fast-translating codons could be as important as slow-translating codons in coordinating cotranslational protein folding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2988
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jan 7 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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