How and why does β-actin mRNA target?

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197 Scopus citations


β-Actin mRNA is localized near the leading edge in several cell types where actin polymerization is actively promoting forward protrusion. The localization of the β-actin mRNA near the leading edge is facilitated by a short sequence in the 3′UTR (untranslated region), the 'zipcode'. Localization of the mRNA at this region is important physiologically. Treatment of chicken embryo fibroblasts with antisense oligonucleotides complementary to the localization sequence (zipcode) in the 3′UTR leads to delocalization of β-actin mRNA, alteration of cell phenotype and a decrease in cell motility. The dynamic image analysis system (DIAS) used to quantify movement of cells in the presence of sense and antisense oligonucleotides to the zipcode showed that net pathlength and average speed of antisense-treated cells were significantly lower than in sense-treated cells. This suggests that a decrease in persistence of direction of movement and not in velocity results from treatment of cells with zipcode-directed antisense oligonucleotides. We postulate that delocalization of β-actin mRNA results in delocalization of nucleation sites and β-actin protein from the leading edge followed by loss of cell polarity and directional movement. Hence the physiological consequences of β-actin mRNA delocalization affect the stability of the cell phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-110
Number of pages14
JournalBiology of the Cell
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Actin polymerization
  • Cell motility
  • Cell polarity
  • mRNA localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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