RNA transport and local control of translation

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2005:21:223-45. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.21.122303.120653.


In eukaryotes, the entwined pathways of RNA transport and local translational regulation are key determinants in the spatio-temporal articulation of gene expression. One of the main advantages of this mechanism over transcriptional control in the nucleus lies in the fact that it endows local sites with independent decision-making authority, a consideration that is of particular relevance in cells with complex cellular architecture such as neurons. Localized RNAs typically contain codes, expressed within cis-acting elements, that specify subcellular targeting. Such codes are recognized by trans-acting factors, adaptors that mediate translocation along cytoskeletal elements by molecular motors. Most transported mRNAs are assumed translationally dormant while en route. In some cell types, especially in neurons, it is considered crucial that translation remains repressed after arrival at the destination site (e.g., a postsynaptic microdomain) until an appropriate activation signal is received. Several candidate mechanisms have been suggested to participate in the local implementation of translational repression and activation, and such mechanisms may target translation at the level of initiation and/or elongation. Recent data indicate that untranslated RNAs may play important roles in the local control of translation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology*
  • RNA Transport*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger