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PQN-59 antagonizes microRNA-mediated repression during post-embryonic temporal patterning and modulates translation and stress granule formation in C. elegans

Published inPLOS genetics, vol. 17, no. 11, e1009599
Publication date2021-11-22
First online date2021-11-22
Abstract

microRNAs (miRNAs) are potent regulators of gene expression that function in a variety of developmental and physiological processes by dampening the expression of their target genes at a post-transcriptional level. In many gene regulatory networks (GRNs), miRNAs function in a switch-like manner whereby their expression and activity elicit a transition from one stable pattern of gene expression to a distinct, equally stable pattern required to define a nascent cell fate. While the importance of miRNAs that function in this capacity are clear, we have less of an understanding of the cellular factors and mechanisms that ensure the robustness of this form of regulatory bistability. In a screen to identify suppressors of temporal patterning phenotypes that result from ineffective miRNA-mediated target repression, we identified pqn-59 , an ortholog of human UBAP2L, as a novel factor that antagonizes the activities of multiple heterochronic miRNAs. Specifically, we find that depletion of pqn-59 can restore normal development in animals with reduced lin-4 and let-7 -family miRNA activity. Importantly, inactivation of pqn-59 is not sufficient to bypass the requirement of these regulatory RNAs within the heterochronic GRN. The pqn-59 gene encodes an abundant, cytoplasmically-localized, unstructured protein that harbors three essential “prion-like” domains. These domains exhibit LLPS properties in vitro and normally function to limit PQN-59 diffusion in the cytoplasm in vivo . Like human UBAP2L, PQN-59's localization becomes highly dynamic during stress conditions where it re-distributes to cytoplasmic stress granules and is important for their formation. Proteomic analysis of PQN-59 complexes from embryonic extracts indicates that PQN-59 and human UBAP2L interact with orthologous cellular components involved in RNA metabolism and promoting protein translation and that PQN-59 additionally interacts with proteins involved in transcription and intracellular transport. Finally, we demonstrate that pqn-59 depletion reduces protein translation and also results in the stabilization of several mature miRNAs (including those involved in temporal patterning). These data suggest that PQN-59 may ensure the bistability of some GRNs that require miRNA functions by promoting miRNA turnover and, like UBAP2L, enhancing protein translation.

Citation (ISO format)
CARLSTON, Colleen et al. PQN-59 antagonizes microRNA-mediated repression during post-embryonic temporal patterning and modulates translation and stress granule formation in C. elegans. In: PLOS genetics, 2021, vol. 17, n° 11, p. e1009599. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009599
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