Intracellular localization of messenger RNAs for cytoskeletal proteins

Cell. 1986 May 9;45(3):407-15. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(86)90326-0.


We have analyzed intracellular distributions of mRNAs for the cytoskeletal proteins actin, vimentin, and tubulin by in situ hybridization. Although polyadenylated RNA was homogeneously distributed throughout the cell, actin mRNA demonstrated a nonhomogeneous distribution in 95% of randomly selected chicken embryonic myoblasts and fibroblasts, as detected by isotopic and nonisotopic techniques. Actin mRNA concentrations were highest at cell extremities, generally in lamellipodia, where grain densities were up to 16-fold higher than in areas near the nucleus. Vimentin mRNA, unlike actin mRNA, was distributed near the nucleus. Tubulin mRNA appeared most concentrated in the peripheral cytoplasm. These results demonstrate that cytoplasmic mRNAs are localized in specific, nonrandom cellular patterns and that localized concentrations of specific proteins may result from corresponding localization of their respective mRNAs. Hence, actin mRNA distribution may result in increased concentration of actin filaments in lamellipodia of motile cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics
  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chickens
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics*
  • Fibroblasts
  • Muscles / cytology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / genetics
  • Vimentin / genetics


  • Actins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tubulin
  • Vimentin