RNA localization in bacteria

Avi Ad Avraam Buskilay, Shanmugapriya Kannaiahy, Orna Amster-Choder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


One of the most important discoveries in the field of microbiology in the last two decades is that bacterial cells have intricate subcellular organization. This understanding has emerged mainly from the depiction of spatial and temporal organization of proteins in specific domains within bacterial cells, e.g., midcell, cell poles, membrane and periplasm. Because translation of bacterial RNA molecules was considered to be strictly coupled to their synthesis, they were not thought to specifically localize to regions outside the nucleoid. However, the increasing interest in RNAs, including non-coding RNAs, encouraged researchers to explore the spatial and temporal localization of RNAs in bacteria. The recent technological improvements in the field of fluorescence microscopy allowed subcellular imaging of RNAs even in the tiny bacterial cells. It has been reported by several groups, including ours that transcripts may specifically localize in such cells. Here we review what is known about localization of RNA and of the pathways that determine RNA fate in bacteria, and discuss the possible cues and mechanisms underlying these distribution patterns.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1051-1060
Number of pages10
JournalRNA Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to Sarah Ades and Patrick Viollier for helpful discussions. KCK is supported by NIH grants GM68720 and NS71542.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Bacterial cell
  • Protein targeting
  • RNA localization
  • RNA zip-code
  • Subcellular organization


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