The intracellular localization of messenger RNAs

Cell. 1995 Apr 21;81(2):161-70. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(95)90324-0.


As I hope this review has made clear, mRNA localization plays an important role in directing specific proteins to their correct position within a cell. Although the study of this process is still in its infancy, it is already apparent that there are several ways that mRNAs can be targeted to particular subcellular sites. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for these different localization pathways are still largely obscure, and their elucidation must await the identification of the specific factors that mediate the interactions between the localized mRNAs and more general components such as the cytoskeleton. Most examples of localized mRNAs are likely to share several common features. First, the site of localization will be determined by the preexisting polarity of the cell, and this will most often depend on the organization of the cytoskeleton, either directly, in the case of active transport, or indirectly, when localization is mediated by localized anchoring sites or stability factors. Second, mRNA localization is likely to be tightly coupled to translational control. If it is important for a cell to synthesize a protein in a particular place, then the translation of the mRNA must be repressed until it is localized. Indeed, there are already several examples where the direct linkage between translational control and localization has been demonstrated, and these are discussed in the accompanying review by Curtis et al. (1995).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Compartmentation / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Polarity / genetics*
  • Drosophila
  • Female
  • Oocytes
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins