Spatial organization of nucleic acid sequences within cells.

J. B. Lawrence, R. H. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


High-resolution in situ hybridization has allowed the distribution of specific nucleic acids to be visualized within cells. This has revealed the extent to which nucleic acids exhibit intracellular spatial organization. Hybridization of nonisotopically labeled probes can be detected with high resolution using fluorescence or alkaline phosphatase for light microscopy or colloidal gold for electron microscopy. Results of this approach have shown that messenger RNAs for specific proteins, nuclear transcripts, or the gene for those transcripts all can exhibit non-random intracellular locations. Actin mRNA can be seen localized in the periphery of motile cells, just proximal to the lamellipodia. Highly localized distributions of EBV primary transcripts can be visualized in some cases creating an elongated track of specific RNA. These nuclear transcripts could be seen associated with the nuclear matrix. Further evidence indicates that the genes from which specific RNAs derive may themselves show defined spatial organization. This work sheds light on a level of cellular organization indicating that nucleic acid sequences contain spatial positioning information and therefore can influence the genesis of cellular structure and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-101
Number of pages19
JournalSeminars in Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial organization of nucleic acid sequences within cells.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this