PUF (PUmilio/FBF) RNA-binding proteins recognize distinct elements. In C. elegans, PUF-8 binds to an 8-nt motif and restricts proliferation in the germline. Conversely, FBF-2 recognizes a 9-nt element and promotes mitosis. To understand how motif divergence relates to biological function, we determined a crystal structure of PUF-8. Comparison of this structure to that of FBF-2 revealed a major difference in a central repeat. We devised a modified yeast 3-hybrid screen to identify mutations that confer recognition of an 8-nt element to FBF-2. We identified several such mutants and validated structurally and biochemically their binding to 8-nt RNA elements. Using genome engineering, we generated a mutant animal with a substitution in FBF-2 that confers preferential binding to the PUF-8 element. The mutant largely rescued overproliferation in animals that spontaneously generate tumors in the absence of puf-8. This work highlights the critical role of motif length in the specification of biological function.
All data associated with the manuscript are present in the source data file. Data have also been deposited to PDB under the accession numbers 6NOD, 6NOH, 6NOF, and 6NOC.
- Zachary T Campbell
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Timothy W Nilsen, Case Western Reserve University, United States
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The Hydra nervous system is the paradigm of a ‘simple nerve net’. Nerve cells in Hydra, as in many cnidarian polyps, are organized in a nerve net extending throughout the body column. This nerve net is required for control of spontaneous behavior: elimination of nerve cells leads to polyps that do not move and are incapable of capturing and ingesting prey (Campbell, 1976). We have re-examined the structure of the Hydra nerve net by immunostaining fixed polyps with a novel antibody that stains all nerve cells in Hydra. Confocal imaging shows that there are two distinct nerve nets, one in the ectoderm and one in the endoderm, with the unexpected absence of nerve cells in the endoderm of the tentacles. The nerve nets in the ectoderm and endoderm do not contact each other. High-resolution TEM (transmission electron microscopy) and serial block face SEM (scanning electron microscopy) show that the nerve nets consist of bundles of parallel overlapping neurites. Results from transgenic lines show that neurite bundles include different neural circuits and hence that neurites in bundles require circuit-specific recognition. Nerve cell-specific innexins indicate that gap junctions can provide this specificity. The occurrence of bundles of neurites supports a model for continuous growth and differentiation of the nerve net by lateral addition of new nerve cells to the existing net. This model was confirmed by tracking newly differentiated nerve cells.
SAS‑6 (SASS6) is essential for centriole formation in human cells and other organisms but its function in mouse is unclear. Here, we report that Sass6‑mutant mouse embryos lack centrioles, activate the mitotic surveillance cell death pathway and arrest at mid‑gestation. In contrast, SAS‑6 is not required for centriole formation in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), but is essential to maintain centriole architecture. Of note, centrioles appeared after just one day of culture of Sass6‑mutant blastocysts, from which mESCs are derived. Conversely, the number of cells with centrosomes is drastically decreased upon the exit from a mESC pluripotent state. At the mechanistic level, the activity of the master kinase in centriole formation, PLK4, associated with increased centriolar and centrosomal protein levels, endow mESCs with the robustness in using SAS‑6‑independent centriole-duplication pathways. Collectively, our data suggest a differential requirement for mouse SAS‑6 in centriole formation or integrity depending on PLK4 and centrosome composition.