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Dev Genet. 1993;14(6):460-70.

Tubulin mRNA instability and stabilization by protein synthesis inhibitors are reproducible in nontranslating extracts from Chlamydomonas.

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Department of Biology/314, University of Nevada, Reno 89557-0015.


In Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, flagellar amputation stimulates an induction in the synthesis of flagellar proteins which allows the cells to rapidly regenerate their flagella. The induction involves the coordinate accumulation and rapid degradation of a large number mRNAs, including those encoding the tubulins. The post-induction degradation of induced tubulin mRNAs has been shown to differ from the constitutive turnover pathway in two ways: (1) the rate of degradation is accelerated, and (2) degradation is prevented by inhibition of protein synthesis. In this report, it is shown that the post-induction degradation of all deflagellation-induced mRNAs examined is prevented by cycloheximide (CX), suggesting they all may be degraded via the same pathway. A cell-free decay system has been developed to investigate the degradation pathway. At least two characteristics of tubulin mRNA degradation are reproducible in these extracts: (1) endogenous alpha-tubulin mRNA is less stable than constitutive mRNAs in the same extract and (2) alpha-tubulin mRNA in extracts prepared from CX-treated cells (CX extracts) is significantly more stable than it is in extracts from untreated cells (control extracts). This indicates that the mechanism by which CX blocks rapid degradation of tubulin mRNA in vivo is not simply by preventing its translation and suggests the involvement of an altered trans-factor. The difference in tubulin mRNA stability in the two extracts is maintained when the extracts are prepared under conditions that dissociate ribosomes from mRNPs, indicating intact polysome structure is not necessary. Tubulin mRNA-containing polysomes isolated from control and CX extracts are equally stable when assayed alone. However, the polysomes from control extracts are more sensitive to exogenous RNAse treatment than are those from CX extracts, indicating a structural difference. There are no detectable differences in soluble factors that influence tubulin mRNA degradation rate between control and CX extracts; addition of excess soluble factors to either control or CX extracts does not alter the tubulin mRNA degradation in the extract, nor does a simple one-to-one combination of the two extracts result in stabilization or destabilization of the whole population of tubulin mRNAs in the mixture. The deflagellation-induced mRNAs, as a group, are shown to be particularly susceptible to a nuclease activity in extracts, inhibitable by vanadyl ribonucleoside complexes, which does not appear to attack constitutive mRNAs. It is proposed that a structural difference in the tubulin mRNPs produced in the presence and absence of CX underlies their differences in stabilities, and that a common nuclease targets the induced flagellar protein mRNAs.

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