P-bodies (processing bodies) are cytoplasmic foci visible by light microscopy in somatic cells of vertebrate and invertebrate origin as well as in yeast, plants and trypanosomes. At the molecular level, P-bodies are dynamic aggregates of specific mRNAs and proteins that serve a dual function: first, they harbour mRNAs that are translationally silenced, and such mRNA can exit again from P-bodies to re-engage in translation. Secondly, P-bodies recruit mRNAs that are targeted for deadenylation and degradation by the decapping/Xrn1 pathway. Whereas certain proteins are core constituents of P-bodies, others involved in recognizing short-lived mRNAs can only be trapped in P-bodies when mRNA decay is attenuated. This reflects the very transient interactions by which many proteins associate with P-bodies. In the present review, we summarize recent findings on the function, assembly and motility of P-bodies. An updated list of proteins and RNAs that localize to P-bodies will help in keeping track of this fast-growing field.

You do not currently have access to this content.