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Stress granules (SGs) are membraneless organelles formed in the cytoplasm by liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) of translationally-stalled mRNA and RNA-binding proteins during stress response. Understanding the mechanisms governing SG assembly requires imaging SG formation in real time. Although numerous SG proteins have been identified, the kinetics of their recruitment during SG assembly has not been well established. Here we used live cell imaging and super-resolution imaging to visualize SG assembly in human cells. We found that IGF2BP proteins formed microscopically visible clusters in living cells almost instantaneously after osmotic stress, followed by fusion of clusters and the recruitment of G3BP1 and TIA1. Rapid clustering of IGF2BP1 was reduced in cells pretreated with emetine that stabilizes polysomes on mRNA. The KH3/4 di-domain and an intrinsically disordered region (IDR) of IGF2BP1 were found to mediate its clustering. Super-resolution imaging confirmed the formation of IGF2BP clusters associated with mRNA at 40 s after osmotic stress. In mature SGs, multiple clusters of poly(A) mRNA were found to associate with the periphery and the interior of a dense granule formed by IGF2BP1. Taken together, our findings revealed a novel, multi-stage LLPS process during osmotic stress, in which rapid clustering of IGF2BP proteins initiates SG assembly. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Wei-Jie Zeng, Chuxin Lu, Yuanyuan Shi, Chunyan Wu, Xinxin Chen, Chunmei Li, Jie Yao. Initiation of stress granule assembly by rapid clustering of IGF2BP proteins upon osmotic shock. Biochimica et biophysica acta. Molecular cell research. 2020 Oct;1867(10):118795

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PMID: 32668274

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