Long-Distance Transported RNAs: From Identity to Function.

There is now a wealth of data, from different plants and labs and spanning more than two decades, which unequivocally demonstrates that RNAs can be transported over long distances, from the cell where they are transcribed to distal cells in other tissues. Different types of RNA molecules are transported, including micro- and messenger RNAs. Whether these RNAs are selected for transport and, if so, how they are selected and transported remain, in general, open questions. This aspect is likely not independent of the biological function and relevance of the transported RNAs, which are in most cases still unclear. In this review, we summarize the experimental data supporting selectivity or nonselectivity of RNA translocation and review the evidence for biological functions. After discussing potential issues regarding the comparability between experiments, we propose criteria that need to be critically evaluated to identify important signaling RNAs.