Codon usage regulates human KRAS expression at both transcriptional and translational levels.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

KRAS and HRAS are highly homologous oncogenic Ras GTPase family members that are mutated in a wide spectrum of human cancers. Despite having high amino acid identity, KRAS and HRAS have very different codon usage biases: the HRAS gene contains many common codons, and KRAS is enriched for rare codons. Rare codons in KRAS suppress its protein expression, which has been shown to affect both normal and cancer biology in mammals. Here, using HRAS or KRAS expression in different human cell lines and in vitro transcription and translation assays, we show that KRAS rare codons inhibit both translation efficiency and transcription and that the contribution of these two processes varies among different cell lines. We observed that codon usage regulates mRNA translation efficiency such that WT KRAS mRNA is poorly translated. On the other hand, common codons increased transcriptional rates by promoting activating histone modifications and recruitment of transcriptional coactivators. Finally, we found that codon usage also influences KRAS protein conformation, likely because of its effect on co-translational protein folding. Together, our results reveal that codon usage has multidimensional effects on protein expression, ranging from effects on transcription to protein folding in human cells.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Fu, J; Dang, Y; Counter, C; Liu, Y

Published Date

  • November 16, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 293 / 46

Start / End Page

  • 17929 - 17940

PubMed ID

  • 30275015

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6240855

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1083-351X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1074/jbc.RA118.004908


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States