The Ref/Aly proteins are dispensable for mRNA export and development in Caenorhabditis elegans

Dasa Longman, Iain L Johnstone, Javier F Cáceres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mRNA export pathway is highly conserved throughout evolution. We have used RNA interference (RNAi) to functionally characterize bona fide RNA export factors and components of the exon-exon junction complex (EJC) in Caenorhabditis elegans. RNAi of CeNXT1/p15, the binding partner of CeNXF1/TAP, caused early embryonic lethality, demonstrating an essential function of this gene during C. elegans development. Moreover, depletion of this protein resulted in nuclear accumulation of poly(A)(+) RNAs, supporting a direct role of NXT1/p15 in mRNA export in C. elegans. Previously, we have shown that RNAi of CeSRm160, a protein of the EJC complex, resulted in wild-type phenotype; in the present study, we demonstrate that RNAi of CeY14, another component of this complex, results in embryonic lethality. In contrast, depletion of the EJC component CeRNPS1 results in no discernible phenotype. Proteins of the REF/Aly family act as adaptor proteins mediating the recruitment of the mRNA export factor, NXF1/TAP, to mRNAs. The C. elegans genome encodes three members of the REF/Aly family. RNAi of individual Ref genes, or codepletion of two Ref genes in different combinations, resulted in wild-type phenotype. Simultaneous suppression of all three Ref genes did not compromise viability or progression through developmental stages in the affected progeny, and only caused a minor defect in larval mobility. Furthermore, no defects in mRNA export were observed upon simultaneous depletion of all three REF proteins. These results suggest the existence of multiple adaptor proteins that mediate mRNA export in C. elegans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-91
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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