Mobile Transcripts and Intercellular Communication in Plants

Enzymes. 2016;40:1-29. doi: 10.1016/bs.enz.2016.07.001. Epub 2016 Aug 29.


Phloem serves as a highway for mobile signals in plants. Apart from sugars and hormones, proteins and RNAs are transported via the phloem and contribute to the intercellular communication coordinating growth and development. Different classes of RNAs have been found mobile and in the phloem exudate such as viral RNAs, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), microRNAs, transfer RNAs, and messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Their transport is considered to be mediated via ribonucleoprotein complexes formed between phloem RNA-binding proteins and mobile RNA molecules. Recent advances in the analysis of the mobile transcriptome indicate that thousands of transcripts move along the plant axis. Although potential RNA mobility motifs were identified, research is still in progress on the factors triggering siRNA and mRNA mobility. In this review, we discuss the approaches used to identify putative mobile mRNAs, the transport mechanism, and the significance of mRNA trafficking.

Keywords: Grafting; Phloem exudate; Plant signals; Plasmodesmata; RNA signals; RNA transport; RNA transport motif; RNA-binding proteins; Sieve tubes; Vasculature; Viruses; siRNA; tRNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Communication*
  • Phloem / cytology
  • Phloem / genetics*
  • Phloem / metabolism*
  • Plant Cells / metabolism*
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • RNA Transport*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Plant