Single mRNA molecules demonstrate probabilistic movement in living mammalian cells

Dahlene Fusco, Nathalie Accornero, Brigitte Lavoie, Shailesh M. Shenoy, Jean Marie Blanchard, Robert H. Singer, Edouard Bertrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

382 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 β-actin mRNA zipcode increased both the frequency and length of these movements, providing a common mechanistic basis for both localized and non-localized 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-167
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 21 2003

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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