G-quadruplex structures trigger RNA phase separation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Liquid-liquid phase separation plays an important role in a variety of cellular processes, including the formation of membrane-less organelles, the cytoskeleton, signalling complexes, and many other biological supramolecular assemblies. Studies on the molecular basis of phase separation in cells have focused on protein-driven phase separation. In contrast, there is limited understanding on how RNA specifically contributes to phase separation. Here, we described a phase-separation-like phenomenon that SHORT ROOT (SHR) RNA undergoes in cells. We found that an RNA G-quadruplex (GQ) forms in SHR mRNA and is capable of triggering RNA phase separation under physiological conditions, suggesting that GQs might be responsible for the formation of the SHR phase-separation-like phenomenon in vivo. We also found the extent of GQ-triggered-phase-separation increases on exposure to conditions which promote GQ. Furthermore, GQs with more G-quartets and longer loops are more likely to form phase separation. Our studies provide the first evidence that RNA can adopt structural motifs to trigger and/or maintain the specificity of RNA-driven phase separation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zhang, Y; Yang, M; Duncan, S; Yang, X; Abdelhamid, MAS; Huang, L; Zhang, H; Benfey, PN; Waller, ZAE; Ding, Y

Published Date

  • December 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 47 / 22

Start / End Page

  • 11746 - 11754

PubMed ID

  • 31722410

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7145655

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1362-4962

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0305-1048

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/nar/gkz978


  • eng