In the process of translation, I learnt that following formation the mRNA must exit the nucleus through a nuclear pore and attach to a ribosome.

My question is how does mRNA navigate itself out of this pore, and find itself a ribosome to bind to? Is this a process of diffusion or is there any other mechanism involved?

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe this thread helps? biology.stackexchange.com/questions/1736/… $\endgroup$
    – Dwarz
    Dec 10, 2017 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ Hello Dwarz! That was helpful but I think the motion being discussed there is that as the mRNA moves through the ribosome, while I am puzzled by how it arrives there. Thanks though, it was interesting to know $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2017 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


There is a complex progress involving many proteins that directs RNAs to the nuclear pore complex and ensures that they are moved into the cytoplasm. Below is part of a diagram (edited) from a Nature review article on this topic, showing the transport of mRNA. It is available from the authors online.

Export of mRNA by the nuclear pore complex

Another general review with an illustrative poster is by SR Carmody and SR Wente, and can be found in the Journal of Cell Science.

As far as I am aware, interaction of mRNA with cytoplasmic ribosomes occurs by diffusion. Direction of the ribosomes to specific locations, such as the endoplasmic reticulum, can occur, but is generally through recognition of features of the nascent peptide after tranlation has started. The Wikipedia article on protein targeting provides an introduction to this area.


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