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Science. 2018 May 25;360(6391):922-927. doi: 10.1126/science.aar7432. Epub 2018 Apr 12.

mRNA structure determines specificity of a polyQ-driven phase separation.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
2
Department of Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
3
Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
4
Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
5
Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. amyglad@unc.edu.
6
Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.

Abstract

RNA promotes liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) to build membraneless compartments in cells. How distinct molecular compositions are established and maintained in these liquid compartments is unknown. Here, we report that secondary structure allows messenger RNAs (mRNAs) to self-associate and determines whether an mRNA is recruited to or excluded from liquid compartments. The polyQ-protein Whi3 induces conformational changes in RNA structure and generates distinct molecular fluctuations depending on the RNA sequence. These data support a model in which structure-based, RNA-RNA interactions promote assembly of distinct droplets and protein-driven, conformational dynamics of the RNA maintain this identity. Thus, the shape of RNA can promote the formation and coexistence of the diverse array of RNA-rich liquid compartments found in a single cell.

PMID:
29650703
PMCID:
PMC6192030
DOI:
10.1126/science.aar7432
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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