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RNA. 2007 May;13(5):625-42.

Cis-acting determinants of asymmetric, cytoplasmic RNA transport.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.


Asymmetric subcellular distribution of RNA is used by many organisms to establish cell polarity, differences in cell fate, or to sequester protein activity. Accurate localization of RNA requires specific sequence and/or structural elements in the localized RNA, as well as proteins that recognize these elements and link the RNA to the appropriate molecular motors. Recent advances in biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell imaging have enabled the identification of many RNA localization elements, or "zipcodes," from a variety of systems. This review focuses on the mechanisms by which various zipcodes direct RNA transport and on the known sequence/structural requirements for their recognition by transport complexes. Computational and experimental methods for predicting and identifying zipcodes are also discussed.

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