Proper regulation of germline gene expression is essential for fertility and maintaining species integrity. In the C. elegans germline, a diverse repertoire of regulatory pathways promote the expression of endogenous germline genes and limit the expression of deleterious transcripts to maintain genome homeostasis. Here we show that the conserved TRIM-NHL protein, NHL-2, plays an essential role in the C. elegans germline, modulating germline chromatin and meiotic chromosome organization. We uncover a role for NHL-2 as a co-factor in both positively (CSR-1) and negatively (HRDE-1) acting germline 22G-small RNA pathways and the somatic nuclear RNAi pathway. Furthermore, we demonstrate that NHL-2 is a bona fide RNA binding protein and, along with RNA-seq data point to a small RNA independent role for NHL-2 in regulating transcripts at the level of RNA stability. Collectively, our data implicate NHL-2 as an essential hub of gene regulatory activity in both the germline and soma.
- Peter R Boag
- Julie M Claycomb
- Quaid D Morris
- Timothy R Hughes
- Julie M Claycomb
- Zhiping Weng
- Julie M Claycomb
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Oliver Hobert, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, United States
This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
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Polycomb silencing represses gene expression and provides a molecular memory of chromatin state that is essential for animal development. We show that Drosophila female germline stem cells (GSCs) provide a powerful system for studying Polycomb silencing. GSCs have a non-canonical distribution of PRC2 activity and lack silenced chromatin, like embryonic progenitors. As GSC daughters differentiate into nurse cells and oocytes, nurse cells silence genes in traditional Polycomb domains and in generally inactive chromatin like embryonic somatic cells. Developmentally controlled expression of two Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2)-interacting proteins, Pcl and Scm, initiate silencing during differentiation. In GSCs, abundant Pcl inhibits PRC2-dependent silencing globally, while in nurse cells Pcl declines and newly-induced Scm concentrates PRC2 activity on traditional Polycomb domains. Our results suggest that PRC2-dependent silencing is developmentally regulated by accessory proteins that either increase the concentration of PRC2 at target sites or inhibit the rate that PRC2 samples chromatin.
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