Aibara S, Andréll J, Singh V, Amunts A
J Vis Exp - (140) - [2018-10-04; online 2018-10-04]
The human mitochondria possess a dedicated set of ribosomes (mitoribosomes) that translate 13 essential protein components of the oxidative phosphorylation complexes encoded by the mitochondrial genome. Since all proteins synthesized by human mitoribosomes are integral membrane proteins, human mitoribosomes are tethered to the mitochondrial inner membrane during translation. Compared to the cytosolic ribosome the mitoribosome has a sedimentation coefficient of 55S, half the rRNA content, no 5S rRNA and 36 additional proteins. Therefore, a higher protein-to-RNA ratio and an atypical structure make the human mitoribosome substantially distinct from its cytosolic counterpart. Despite the central importance of the mitoribosome to life, no protocols were available to purify the intact complex from human cell lines. Traditionally, mitoribosomes were isolated from mitochondria-rich animal tissues that required kilograms of starting material. We reasoned that mitochondria in dividing HEK293-derived human cells grown in nutrient-rich expression medium would have an active mitochondrial translation, and, therefore, could be a suitable source of material for the structural and biochemical studies of the mitoribosome. To investigate its structure, we developed a protocol for large-scale purification of intact mitoribosomes from HEK cells. Herein, we introduce nitrogen cavitation method as a faster, less labor-intensive and more efficient alternative to traditional mechanical shear-based methods for cell lysis. This resulted in preparations of the mitoribosome that allowed for its structural determination to high resolution, revealing the composition of the intact human mitoribosome and its assembly intermediates. Here, we follow up on this work and present an optimized and more cost-effective method requiring only ~1010 cultured HEK cells. The method can be employed to purify human mitoribosomal translating complexes, mutants, quality control assemblies and mitoribosomal subunits intermediates. The purification can be linearly scaled up tenfold if needed, and also applied to other types of cells.