RNAs, Phase Separation, and Membrane-Less Organelles: Are Post-Transcriptional Modifications Modulating Organelle Dynamics?

BioEssays : News and Reviews in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Aleksej Drino, Matthias R Schaefer


Membranous organelles allow sub-compartmentalization of biological processes. However, additional subcellular structures create dynamic reaction spaces without the need for membranes. Such membrane-less organelles (MLOs) are physiologically relevant and impact development, gene expression regulation, and cellular stress responses. The phenomenon resulting in the formation of MLOs is called liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), and is primarily governed by the interactions of multi-domain proteins or proteins harboring intrinsically disordered regions as well as RNA-binding domains. Although the presence of RNAs affects the formation and dissolution of MLOs, it remains unclear how the properties of RNAs exactly contribute to these effects. Here, the authors review this emerging field, and explore how particular RNA properties can affect LLPS and the behavior of MLOs. It is suggested that post-transcriptional RNA modification systems could be contributors for dynamically modulating the assembly and dissolution of MLOs.


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