Single mRNA molecules demonstrate probabilistic movement in living mammalian cells

Fusco, D.; Accornero, N.; Lavoie, B.; Shenoy, S. M.; Blanchard, J. M.; Singer, R. H.; Bertrand, E.

Current Biology

2003-01-21 / vol 13 / pages 161-167


Cytoplasmic mRNA movements ultimately determine the spatial distribution of protein synthesis. Although some mRNAs are compartmentalized in cytoplasmic regions, most mRNAs, such as housekeeping mRNAs or the poly-adenylated mRNA population, are believed to be distributed throughout the cytoplasm [1-4]. The general mechanism by which all mRNAs may move, and how this may be related to localization, is unknown. Here, we report a method to visualize single mRNA molecules in living mammalian cells, and we report that, regardless of any specific cytoplasmic distribution, individual mRNA molecules exhibit rapid and directional movements on microtubules. Importantly, the beta-actin mRNA zipcode increased both the frequency and length of these movements, providing a common mechanistic basis for both localized and nonlocalized mRNAs. Disruption of the cytoskeleton with drugs showed that microtubules and microfilaments are involved in the types of mRNA movements we have observed, which included complete immobility and corralled and nonrestricted diffusion. Individual mRNA molecules switched frequently among these movements, suggesting that mRNAs undergo continuous cycles of anchoring, diffusion, and active transport.



organization; protein; visualization; in-situ; sequences; transport; diffusion; filaments; messenger-rna localization; particles

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