Global mRNA polarization regulates translation efficiency in the intestinal epithelium

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Asymmetric messenger RNA (mRNA) localization facilitates efficient translation in cells such as neurons and fibroblasts. However, the extent and importance of mRNA polarization in epithelial tissues are unclear. Here, we used single-molecule transcript imaging and subcellular transcriptomics to uncover global apical-basal intracellular polarization of mRNA in the mouse intestinal epithelium. The localization of mRNAs did not generally overlap protein localization. Instead, ribosomes were more abundant on the apical sides, and apical transcripts were consequently more efficiently translated. Refeeding of fasted mice elicited a basal-to-apical shift in polarization of mRNAs encoding ribosomal proteins, which was associated with a specific boost in their translation. This led to increased protein production, required for efficient nutrient absorption. These findings reveal a posttranscriptional regulatory mechanism involving dynamic polarization of mRNA and polarized translation.

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