Open Access Research article

Genome-wide analysis of growth phase-dependent translational and transcriptional regulation in halophilic archaea

Christian Lange1, Alexander Zaigler14, Mathias Hammelmann1, Jens Twellmeyer2, Günter Raddatz35, Stephan C Schuster36, Dieter Oesterhelt2 and Jörg Soppa1*

Author affiliations

1 Institute for Molecular Biosciences, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Max-von-Laue-Strasse 9, 60438 Frankfurt a.M., Germany

2 Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18, 82152 Martinsried, Germany

3 Genomics Group, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Spemannstrasse 37-39, 72076 Tübingen, Germany

4 GANYMED Pharmaceuticals AG, Freiligrathstrasse 12, 55131 Mainz, Germany

5 MR-Center, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Spemannstrasse 34, 72076 Tübingen, Germany

6 Center for Comparative Genomics and Bioinformatics, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2007, 8:415  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-415

Published: 12 November 2007



Differential expression of genes can be regulated on many different levels. Most global studies of gene regulation concentrate on transcript level regulation, and very few global analyses of differential translational efficiencies exist. The studies have revealed that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Arabidopsis thaliana, and human cell lines translational regulation plays a significant role. Additional species have not been investigated yet. Particularly, until now no global study of translational control with any prokaryotic species was available.


A global analysis of translational control was performed with two haloarchaeal model species, Halobacterium salinarum and Haloferax volcanii. To identify differentially regulated genes, exponentially growing and stationary phase cells were compared.

More than 20% of H. salinarum transcripts are translated with non-average efficiencies. By far the largest group is comprised of genes that are translated with above-average efficiency specifically in exponential phase, including genes for many ribosomal proteins, RNA polymerase subunits, enzymes, and chemotaxis proteins. Translation of 1% of all genes is specifically repressed in either of the two growth phases. For comparison, DNA microarrays were also used to identify differential transcriptional regulation in H. salinarum, and 17% of all genes were found to have non-average transcript levels in exponential versus stationary phase.

In H. volcanii, 12% of all genes are translated with non-average efficiencies. The overlap with H. salinarum is negligible. In contrast to H. salinarum, 4.6% of genes have non-average translational efficiency in both growth phases, and thus they might be regulated by other stimuli than growth phase.


For the first time in any prokaryotic species it was shown that a significant fraction of genes is under differential translational control. Groups of genes with different regulatory patterns were discovered. However, neither the fractions nor the identity of regulated genes are conserved between H. salinarum and H. volcanii, indicating that prokaryotes as well as eukaryotes use differential translational control for the regulation of gene expression, but that the identity of regulated genes is not conserved.

For 70 H. salinarum genes potentiation of regulation was observed, but for the majority of regulated genes either transcriptional or translational regulation is employed.