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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Jan-Feb;41(1):3-19.

Cellular dynamics of small RNAs.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


This review highlights the unexpectedly complicated nuclear egress and nuclear import of small RNAs. Although nucleus/cytoplasm trafficking was thought to be restricted to snRNAs of many, but not all, eukaryotes, recent data indicate that such traffic may be more common than previously appreciated. First, in conflict with numerous previous reports, new information indicates that Saccharomyces cerevisiae snRNAs may cycle between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Second, recent studies also provide evidence that other small RNAs that function exclusively in the nucleus-the budding yeast telomerase RNA and possibly small nucleolar RNAs-may exit to the cytoplasm, only to return to the nucleus. Third, nucleus/cytoplasm cycling of RNAs also occurs for RNAs that function solely in the cytoplasm, as it has been discovered that cytoplasmic tRNAs of budding yeast travel "retrograde" to the nucleus and, perhaps, back again to the cytoplasm to function in protein synthesis. Fourth, there is at least one example in ciliates of small double-stranded RNAs traveling multiple cycles between the cytoplasm and distinct nuclei to direct genome structure. This report discusses data that support or argue against nucleus/cytoplasm bidirectional movement for each category of small RNA and the possible roles that such movement may serve.

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