Neuronal RNA granules: a link between RNA localization and stimulation-dependent translation

Neuron. 2001 Nov 20;32(4):683-96. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(01)00508-6.


RNA granules are a macromolecular structure observed in neurons, where they serve as motile units that translocate mRNAs. Isolated RNA granules are highly enriched in Staufen protein and ultrastructurally contain densely packed clusters of ribosomes. With depolarization, many mRNAs, including those involved in plasticity, rapidly shift from the RNA granule fraction to polysomes. Depolarization reorganizes granules and induces a less compact organization of their ribosomes. RNA granules are not translationally competent, as indicated by the failure to incorporate radioactive amino acids and the absence of eIF4E, 4G, and tRNAs. We concluded that RNA granules are a local storage compartment for mRNAs under translational arrest but are poised for release to actively translated pools. Local release of mRNAs and ribosomes from granules may serve as a macromolecular mechanism linking RNA localization to translation and synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Fractionation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Potassium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Potassium Chloride