ABSTRACT

Skeletal muscle myofibers are large and elongated cells with multiple and evenly distributed nuclei. Nuclear distribution suggests that each nucleus influences a specific compartment within the myofiber and implies a functional role for nuclear positioning. Compartmentalization of specific mRNAs and proteins has been reported at the neuromuscular and myotendinous junctions, but mRNA distribution in non-specialized regions of the myofibers remains largely unexplored. We report that the bulk of mRNAs are enriched around the nucleus of origin and that this perinuclear accumulation depends on recently transcribed mRNAs. Surprisingly, mRNAs encoding large proteins – giant mRNAs – are spread throughout the cell and do not exhibit perinuclear accumulation. Furthermore, by expressing exogenous transcripts with different sizes we found that size contributes to mRNA spreading independently of mRNA sequence. Both these mRNA distribution patterns depend on microtubules and are independent of nuclear dispersion, mRNA expression level and stability, and the characteristics of the encoded protein. Thus, we propose that mRNA distribution in non-specialized regions of skeletal muscle is size selective to ensure cellular compartmentalization and simultaneous long-range distribution of giant mRNAs.

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