After synthesis and transit through the nucleus, messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are exported to the cytoplasm through the nuclear pore complex (NPC). At the NPC, messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) first encounter the nuclear basket where mRNP rearrangements are thought to allow access to the transport channel. Here, we use single mRNA resolution live cell microscopy and subdiffraction particle tracking to follow individual mRNAs on their path toward the cytoplasm. We show that when reaching the nuclear periphery, RNAs are not immediately exported but scan along the nuclear periphery, likely to find a nuclear pore allowing export. Deletion or mutation of the nuclear basket proteins MLP1/2 or the mRNA binding protein Nab2 changes the scanning behavior of mRNPs at the nuclear periphery, shortens residency time at nuclear pores, and results in frequent release of mRNAs back into the nucleoplasm. These observations suggest a role for the nuclear basket in providing an interaction platform that keeps RNAs at the periphery, possibly to allow mRNP rearrangements before export.
© 2015 Saroufim et al.