RNA granules are ubiquitous. Composed of RNA-binding proteins and RNAs, they provide functional compartmentalization within cells. They are inextricably linked with RNA biology and as such are often referred to as the hubs for post-transcriptional regulation. Much of the attention has been given to the proteins that form these condensates and thus many fundamental questions about the biology of RNA granules remain poorly understood: How and which RNAs enrich in RNA granules, how are transcripts regulated in them, and how do granule-enriched mRNAs shape the biology of a cell? In this review, we discuss the imaging, genetic, and biochemical data, which have revealed that some aspects of the RNA biology within granules are carried out by the RNA itself rather than the granule proteins. Interestingly, the RNA structure has emerged as an important feature in the post-transcriptional control of granule transcripts. This review is part of the Special Issue in the Frontiers in RNA structure in the journal Molecules.
Keywords: RNA granules; RNA phase separation; RNA secondary structure; RNA self-assembly; RNA-RNA interactions; germ granules; p-bodies; stress granules.