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Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2001;17:569-614.

Getting the message across: the intracellular localization of mRNAs in higher eukaryotes.

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1
Wellcome/CRC Institute and the Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QR United Kingdom. mip22@hermes.cam.ac.uk

Abstract

The intracellular localization of mRNA, a common mechanism for targeting proteins to specific regions of the cell, probably occurs in most if not all polarized cell types. Many of the best characterized localized mRNAs are found in oocytes and early embryos, where they function as localized determinants that control axis formation and the development of the germline. However, mRNA localization has also been shown to play an important role in somatic cells, such as neurons, where it may be involved in learning and memory. mRNAs can be localized by a variety of mechanisms including local protection from degradation, diffusion to a localized anchor, and active transport, and we consider the evidence for each of these processes, before discussing the cis-acting elements that direct the localization of specific mRNAs and the trans-acting factors that bind them.

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