The functions and regulatory principles of mRNA intracellular trafficking

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;825:57-96. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1221-6_2.


The subcellular localization of RNA molecules is a key step in the control of gene expression that impacts a broad array of biological processes in different organisms and cell types. Like other aspects of posttranscriptional gene regulation discussed in this collection of reviews, the intracellular trafficking of mRNAs is modulated by a complex regulatory code implicating specific cis-regulatory elements, RNA-binding proteins, and cofactors that function combinatorially to dictate precise localization mechanisms. In this review, we first discuss the functional benefits of transcript localization, the regulatory principles involved, and specific molecular mechanisms that have been described for a few well-characterized mRNAs. We also overview some of the emerging genomic and imaging technologies that have provided significant insights into this layer of gene regulation. Finally, we highlight examples of human diseases where defective transcript localization has been documented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins