Sending messages in moving cells: mRNA localization and the regulation of cell migration

Shane P. Herbert, Guilherme Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Cell migration is a fundamental biological process involved in tissue formationand homeostasis. The correct polarization of motile cells is critical to ensuredirected movement and is orchestrated by many intrinsic and extrinsic factors.Of these, the subcellular distribution of mRNAs and the consequent spatialcontrol of translation are key modulators of cell polarity. mRNA transport isdependent on cis-regulatory elements within transcripts, which are recognizedby trans-acting proteins that ensure the efficient delivery of certain messages toleading cell edge of migrating cells. At their destination, translation of localizedmRNAs then participates in regional cellular responses underlying cell motility.In this review, we summarize the key findings that established mRNA targetingas a critical driver of cell migration and how the characterization of polarizedmRNAs in motile cells has been expanded from just a few species to hundredsof transcripts. We also describe the molecular control of mRNA trafficking,subsequent mechanisms of local protein synthesis and how these ultimatelyregulate cell polarity during migration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-606
Number of pages12
JournalEssays in Biochemistry
Issue number5
Early online date19 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


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