[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although mammalian polypyrimidine tract-binding (PTB) protein functions in most or all cell types to regulate a wide spectrum of transcripts, Drosophila PTB encodes an abundant male germline-specific mRNA isoform (dmPTB) whose expression correlates with male fertility. The biological function of this isoform is unknown. Using selection-amplification, we show that mammalian and Drosophila PTB have similar RNA sequence preference, suggesting that cell-specific expression rather than unique RNA-binding properties account for the sex-specific function of dmPTB. We also show that the dmPTB protein isoform expressed in the male germline is by far the most abundant isoform, and reduction of its levels correlates with male sterility. Finally, we show that dmPTB expression is necessary for proper spermatid individualization, the terminal step necessary for production of motile sperm. Loss of dmPTB results in severe disruption of the actin cones of the spermatid individualization complex. This represents a cytological defect resulting from PTB loss. We discuss the basis for functional differences between mammalian and Drosophila PTB orthologs.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2010 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing plays an important role in generating molecular and functional diversity in multi-cellular organisms. RNA binding proteins play crucial roles in modulating splice site choice. The majority of known binding sites for regulatory proteins are short, degenerate consensus sequences that occur frequently throughout the genome. This poses an important challenge to distinguish between functionally relevant sequences and a vast array of those occurring by chance.
Here we have used a computational approach that combines a series of biological constraints to identify uridine-rich sequence motifs that are present within relevant biological contexts and thus are potential targets of the Drosophila master sex-switch protein Sex-lethal (SXL). This strategy led to the identification of one novel target. Moreover, our systematic analysis provides a starting point for the molecular and functional characterization of an additional target, which is dependent on SXL activity, either directly or indirectly, for regulation in a germline-specific manner.
This approach has successfully identified previously known, new, and potential SXL targets. Our analysis suggests that only a subset of potential SXL sites are regulated by SXL. Finally, this approach should be directly relevant to the large majority of splicing regulatory proteins for which bonafide targets are unknown.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Drosophila master sex-switch protein Sex-lethal (SXL) regulates the splicing and/or translation of three known targets to mediate somatic sexual differentiation. Genetic studies suggest that additional target(s) of SXL exist, particularly in the female germline. Surprisingly, our detailed molecular characterization of a new potential target of SXL, enhancer of rudimentary (e(r)), reveals that SXL regulates e(r) by a novel mechanism--polyadenylation switching--specifically in the female germline. SXL binds to multiple SXL-binding sites, which include the GU-rich poly(A) enhancer, and competes for the binding of CstF64 in vitro. The SXL-binding sites are able to confer sex-specific poly(A) switching onto an otherwise nonresponsive polyadenylation signal in vivo. The sex-specific poly(A) switching of e(r) provides a means for translational regulation in germ cells. We present a model for the SXL-dependent poly(A) site choice in the female germline.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: How organismal complexity is achieved is a fundamental biological issue. The surprising revelation that complex eukaryotes have fewer than expected genes presents an important challenge for deciphering how organisms achieve complexity. The genome size and the gene number do not necessarily correlate in a consistent manner with the perceived organismal complexity. In this review, we focus on known molecular mechanisms that increase genetic complexity at the molecular and functional levels, and discuss features that have likely contributed to organismal complexity.
No preview · Article · Mar 2006 · Current Genomics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Control of gene expression in chloroplasts is critically dependent upon post-transcriptional mechanisms, most of which require formation of RNA-protein complexes. The 5' untranslated regions (5'UTRs) of chloroplast mRNAs have been shown to affect stability and/or translation of the message. These effects are mediated by the binding of specific protein(s) to the 5'UTR. We can detect such 5'UTR-protein complexes in vitro and have previously shown that the same polypeptide(s) bind many spinach chloroplast 5'UTRs (Robida et al. 2002). Here we report investigations on the RNA elements and protein factors involved in formation of these complexes. Comparison of the atpI 5'UTR, which serves as the representative 5'UTR for these experiments, among 12 angiosperms revealed two phylogenetically conserved regions upstream of a putative ribosome binding site. To determine whether the two conserved regions interact to form a single polypeptide-binding site, binding assays were performed with RNAs containing only one of the two. Those experiments revealed that the entire 5'UTR could be separated into two binding sites for chloroplast polypeptides, each containing one of the two conserved regions. Competition binding assays using the individual binding sites established that each was bound by different polypeptide(s). These data support the hypothesis that there are at least two unique polypeptides involved in these 5'UTR-protein complexes, each binding specifically to a different site within the 5'UTR.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mammalian polypyrimidine-tract binding protein (PTB), which is a heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein, is ubiquitously expressed. Unexpectedly, we found that, in Drosophila melanogaster, the abundant PTB transcript is present only in males (third instar larval, pupal and adult stages) and in adult flies is restricted to the germline. Most importantly, a signal from the somatic sex-determination pathway that is dependent on the male-specific isoform of the doublesex protein (DSX(M)) regulates PTB, providing evidence for the necessity of soma-germline communication in the differentiation of the male germline. Analysis of a P-element insertion directly links PTB function with male fertility. Specifically, loss of dmPTB affects spermatid differentiation, resulting in the accumulation of cysts with elongated spermatids without producing fully separated motile sperms. This male-specific expression of PTB is conserved in D.virilis. Thus, PTB appears to be a particularly potent downstream target of the sex-determination pathway in the male germline, since it can regulate multiple mRNAs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene expression in chloroplasts is strongly regulated at the post-transcriptional level. Most post-transcriptional mechanisms require RNA-protein complexes. Here we report an analysis of RNA-protein complexes that form in the 5' untranslated regions (5'UTRs) of spinach chloroplast mRNAs. Previous studies from our laboratory showed that four ATP synthase 5'UTRs were able to compete with each other for binding by proteins in a chloroplast extract. This implied that at least some of the binding proteins recognized all four of those ATP synthase 5'UTRs. Here, we examine whether the binding proteins are ATP synthase-specific by performing competition-binding assays between an ATP synthase 5'UTR and 5'UTRs from other chloroplast genes. Competition substrates were chosen to represent a wide range of chloroplast mRNAs, including those encoding the photosystems, NADH dehydrogenase, cytochromes and ribosomal subunits, and two previously unexamined ATP synthase subunits. Results from these experiments revealed that, although the ATP synthase-binding proteins do not bind universally to every chloroplast 5'UTR, they do bind to the majority (12/14) of those examined. Thus, these RNA-binding proteins are candidates for factors that link the post-transcriptional expression of many chloroplast genes of disparate function.