Stress granules and cell signaling: more than just a passing phase?

Trends Biochem Sci. 2013 Oct;38(10):494-506. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Sep 10.


Stress granules (SGs) contain translationally-stalled mRNAs, associated preinitiation factors, and specific RNA-binding proteins. In addition, many signaling proteins are recruited to SGs and/or influence their assembly, which is transient, lasting only until the cells adapt to stress or die. Beyond their role as mRNA triage centers, we posit that SGs constitute RNA-centric signaling hubs analogous to classical multiprotein signaling domains such as transmembrane receptor complexes. As signaling centers, SG formation communicates a 'state of emergency', and their transient existence alters multiple signaling pathways by intercepting and sequestering signaling components. SG assembly and downstream signaling functions may require a cytosolic phase transition facilitated by intrinsically disordered, aggregation-prone protein regions shared by RNA-binding and signaling proteins.

Keywords: cell signaling; intrinsically disordered; protein aggregation; stress granules; translation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins