Spatial Organization of Single mRNPs at Different Stages of the Gene Expression Pathway

Srivathsan Adivarahan, Nathan Livingston, Beth Nicholson, Samir Rahman, Bin Wu, Olivia S. Rissland, Daniel Zenklusen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


mRNAs form ribonucleoprotein complexes (mRNPs) by association with proteins that are crucial for mRNA metabolism. While the mRNP proteome has been well characterized, little is known about mRNP organization. Using a single-molecule approach, we show that mRNA conformation changes depending on its cellular localization and translational state. Compared to nuclear mRNPs and lncRNPs, association with ribosomes decompacts individual mRNAs, while pharmacologically dissociating ribosomes or sequestering them into stress granules leads to increased compaction. Moreover, translating mRNAs rarely show co-localized 5′ and 3′ ends, indicating either that mRNAs are not translated in a closed-loop configuration, or that mRNA circularization is transient, suggesting that a stable closed-loop conformation is not a universal state for all translating mRNAs. Adivarahan et al. show that mRNA compaction varies depending on subcellular localization and mRNA translation state. Whereas translational inhibition and sequestration to stress granules leads to mRNA compaction, translation induces the separation of 5′ and 3′ ends, suggesting that mRNA translation does not occur in a stable circularized conformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-738.e5
JournalMolecular cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 15 2018


  • RNA compaction
  • RNA imaging
  • RNA structure
  • closed-loop translation
  • long non-coding RNAs
  • mRNP organization
  • smFISH
  • stress granules
  • super resolution microscopy
  • translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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