13 December

CS&D Best Publication Award for Sanne Boersma

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Each year, the graduate school Cancer, Stem cells and Developmental biology (CS&D) gives an award to the PhD student with the best publication of that year. Today, the award was given to Sanne Boersma from the group of Marvin Tanenbaum, for her publication studying the complexity of the translation of single genes in the cell.

This publication, entitled “Multi-color single-molecule imaging uncovers extensive heterogeneity in mRNA decoding” and published in Cell on the 6th of June, describes the development of an advanced microscopy method to directly visualize the translation of the genetic code in a living cell. For the production of the correct protein, translation of a gene needs to initiate at the right place at the start of the gene. Sometimes, ribosomes that translate genes may use a wrong starting point, resulting in so-called out-of-frame translation and a faulty protein. It was, however, unknown how often ribosomes get it wrong. Boersma and her colleagues developed an advanced microscopy method called MashTag that enabled an elegant study of this research question. It turned out that out-of-frame translation happens much more frequently than previously thought. This finding suggests that translation is far more complex than expected and raises new questions that can now be studied with the MashTag technology. Read more about this study in a previous news item: Translation of genes more complex than expected.