Transcriptome-Wide Comparison of Stress Granules and P-Bodies Reveals that Translation Plays a Major Role in RNA Partitioning

Mol Cell Biol. 2019 Nov 25;39(24):e00313-19. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00313-19. Print 2019 Dec 15.


The eukaryotic cytosol contains multiple RNP granules, including P-bodies and stress granules. Three different methods have been used to describe the transcriptome of stress granules or P-bodies, but how these methods compare and how RNA partitioning occurs between P-bodies and stress granules have not been addressed. Here, we compare the analysis of the stress granule transcriptome based on differential centrifugation with and without subsequent stress granule immunopurification. We find that while differential centrifugation alone gives a first approximation of the stress granule transcriptome, this methodology contains nonspecific transcripts that play a confounding role in the interpretation of results. We also immunopurify and compare the RNAs in stress granules and P-bodies under arsenite stress and compare those results to those for the P-body transcriptome described under nonstress conditions. We find that the P-body transcriptome is dominated by poorly translated mRNAs under nonstress conditions, but during arsenite stress, when translation is globally repressed, the P-body transcriptome is very similar to the stress granule transcriptome. This suggests that translation is a dominant factor in targeting mRNAs into both P-bodies and stress granules, and during stress, when most mRNAs are untranslated, the composition of P-bodies reflects this broader translation repression.

Keywords: P-body; RNA; stress granule; transcriptome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / genetics*
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Humans
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology
  • RNA Stability / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Ribonucleoproteins / genetics
  • Ribonucleoproteins / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics
  • Transcriptome / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Ribonucleoproteins