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.
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