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PLoS One. 2014 May 20;9(5):e97924. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097924. eCollection 2014.

The DEAD Box RNA helicase VBH-1 is a new player in the stress response in C. elegans.

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Departamento de Biología Celular y Desarrollo, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, Distrito Federal, México.


For several years, DEAD box RNA helicase Vasa (DDX4) has been used as a bona fide germline marker in different organisms. C. elegans VBH-1 is a close homolog of the Vasa protein, which plays an important role in gametogenesis, germ cell survival and embryonic development. Here, we show that VBH-1 protects nematodes from heat shock and oxidative stress. Using the germline-defective mutant glp-4(bn2) we found that a potential somatic expression of vbh-1 might be important for stress survival. We also show that the VBH-1 paralog LAF-1 is important for stress survival, although this protein is not redundant with its counterpart. Furthermore, we observed that the mRNAs of the heat shock proteins hsp-1 and sip-1 are downregulated when vbh-1 or laf-1 are silenced. Previously, we reported that in C. elegans, VBH-1 was primarily expressed in P granules of germ cells and in the cytoplasm of all blastomeres. Here we show that during stress, VBH-1 co-localizes with CGH-1 in large aggregates in the gonad core and oocytes; however, VBH-1 aggregates do not overlap with CGH-1 foci in early embryos under the same conditions. These data demonstrate that, in addition to the previously described role for this protein in the germline, VBH-1 plays an important role during the stress response in C. elegans through the potential direct or indirect regulation of stress response mRNAs.

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