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Development. 2013 Mar;140(6):1312-20. doi: 10.1242/dev.087833.

PUF-8 and TCER-1 are essential for normal levels of multiple mRNAs in the C. elegans germline.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur 208016, India.

Abstract

PUF family proteins are well-conserved regulators of cell proliferation in different developmental processes. They regulate target mRNAs by promoting degradation or by influencing translation through interaction with the translation initiation machinery. Here we show that Caenorhabditis elegans PUF-8 functions redundantly with the nuclear protein TCER-1 in the post-transcriptional maintenance of at least six germline mRNAs. The levels of spliced mRNAs in the puf-8(-) tcer-1(-) double mutant are only 10-30% of the wild type, whereas the unspliced forms increase by ∼2- to 3-fold compared with the wild type. These two proteins colocalise at the inner nuclear periphery, and their absence leads to reduced germ cell proliferation and to sterility. A yeast two-hybrid screen of 31 components of the nuclear pore complex and mRNA processing machineries identified seven proteins involved in mRNA export as potential partners of PUF-8. One of these, the nuclear cap-binding protein NCBP-2, colocalises with PUF-8 in the nucleus. A 50 amino acid N-terminal domain of PUF-8 is essential for interaction with NCBP-2 and for PUF-8 to function redundantly with TCER-1. These results reveal two important unexpected aspects of PUF proteins: that, in addition to the C-terminal PUF domain, the N-terminal domain is crucial for PUF function, and that PUF proteins have a novel role in mRNA maintenance. We propose that PUF proteins, in addition to their known cytoplasmic roles, participate in nuclear processing and/or export of mRNAs.

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