Visualisation of ribosomes in Drosophila axons using Ribo-BiFC

Anand Singh, Akilu Abdullahi, Matthias Soller, Alexandre David, Saverio Brogna

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The distribution of assembled, and potentially translating, ribosomes within cells can be visualised in Drosophila by using Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation (BiFC) to monitor the interaction between tagged pairs of 40S and 60S ribosomal proteins (RPs) that are close neighbours across inter-subunit junctions in the assembled 80S ribosome. Here we describe transgenes expressing two novel RP pairs tagged with Venus-based BiFC fragments that considerably increase the sensitivity of this technique we termed Ribo-BiFC. This improved method should provide a convenient way of monitoring the local distribution of ribosomes in most Drosophila cells and we suggest that could be implemented in other organisms. We visualized 80S ribosomes in different neurons, particularly photoreceptors in the larva, pupa and adult brain. Assembled ribosomes are most abundant in the various neuronal cell bodies, but they are also present along the lengths of axons. They are concentrated in growth cones of developing photoreceptors and apparent at the terminals of mature larval photoreceptors targeting the larval optical neuropil. Surprisingly, there is relatively less puromycin incorporation in the distal portion of axons in the larval optic stalk, suggesting that some of the ribosomes that have initiated translation may not be engaged in elongation in growing axons.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbio047233
JournalBiology Open
Issue number12
Early online date10 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


  • 80S
  • Axons
  • BiFC
  • Drosophila
  • Neurons
  • Ribosomes


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