Single-molecule insights into mRNA dynamics in neurons

Trends Cell Biol. 2015 Aug;25(8):468-75. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2015.05.005. Epub 2015 Jun 4.


Targeting of mRNAs to neuronal dendrites and axons plays an integral role in intracellular signaling, development, and synaptic plasticity. Single-molecule imaging of mRNAs in neurons and brain tissue has led to enhanced understanding of mRNA dynamics. Here we discuss aspects of mRNA regulation as revealed by single-molecule detection, which has led to quantitative analyses of mRNA diversity, localization, transport, and translation. These exciting new discoveries propel our understanding of the life of an mRNA in a neuron and how its activity is regulated at the single-molecule level.

Keywords: RNA localization; local translation; mRNA tracking; smFISH.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence / methods
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • RNA, Messenger