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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 11;8(9):e74598. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074598. eCollection 2013.

Characterization of mRNA-cytoskeleton interactions in situ using FMTRIP and proximity ligation.

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  • 1Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.


Many studies have demonstrated an association between the cytoskeleton and mRNA, as well as the asymmetric distribution of mRNA granules within the cell in response to various signaling events. It is likely that the extensive cytoskeletal network directs mRNA transport and localization, with different cytoskeletal elements having their own specific roles. In order to understand the spatiotemporal changes in the interactions between the mRNA and the cytoskeleton as a response to a stimulus, a technique that can visualize and quantify these changes across a population of cells while capturing cell-to-cell variations is required. Here, we demonstrate a method for imaging and quantifying mRNA-cytoskeleton interactions on a per cell basis with single-interaction sensitivity. Using a proximity ligation assay with flag-tagged multiply-labeled tetravalent RNA imaging probes (FMTRIP), we quantified interactions between mRNAs and β-tubulin, vimentin, or filamentous actin (F-actin) for two different mRNAs, poly(A) + and β-actin mRNA, in two different cell types, A549 cells and human dermal fibroblasts (HDF). We found that the mRNAs interacted predominantly with F-actin (>50% in HDF, >20% in A549 cells), compared to β-tubulin (<5%) and vimentin (11-13%). This likely reflects differences in mRNA management by the two cell types. We then quantified changes in these interactions in response to two perturbations, F-actin depolymerization and arsenite-induced oxidative stress, both of which alter either the cytoskeleton itself and mRNA localization. Both perturbations led to a decrease in poly(A) + mRNA interactions with F-actin and an increase in the interactions with microtubules, in a time dependent manner.

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