Recent progress in single-molecule studies of mRNA localization in vivo

Songhee H. Kim, Melissa Vieira, Jae Youn Shim, Hongyoung Choi, Hye Yoon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


From biogenesis to degradation, mRNA goes through diverse types of regulation and interaction with other biomolecules. Uneven distribution of mRNA transcripts and the diverse isoforms and modifications of mRNA make us wonder how cells manage the complexity and keep the functional integrity for the normal development of cells and organisms. Single-molecule microscopy tools have expanded the scope of RNA research with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. In this review, we highlight the recent progress in the methods for labeling mRNA targets and analyzing the quantitative information from fluorescence images of single mRNA molecules. In particular, the MS2 system and its various applications are the main focus of this article. We also review how recent studies have addressed biological questions related to the significance of mRNA localization in vivo. Efforts to visualize the dynamics of single mRNA molecules in live cells will push forward our knowledge on the nature of heterogeneity in RNA sequence, structure, and distribution as well as their molecular function and coordinated interaction with RNA binding proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1108-1118
Number of pages11
JournalRNA Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Creative-Pioneering Researchers Program through Seoul National University (SNU).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Mrna localization
  • RNA binding proteins
  • local translation
  • mRNA localization
  • ribonucleoprotein complex
  • single-molecule imaging


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