We demonstrate how RNA binding protein FOX-1 functions as a dose-dependent X-signal element to communicate X-chromosome number and thereby determine nematode sex. FOX-1, an RNA recognition motif protein, triggers hermaphrodite development in XX embryos by causing non-productive alternative pre-mRNA splicing of xol-1, the master sex-determination switch gene that triggers male development in XO embryos. RNA binding experiments together with genome editing demonstrate that FOX-1 binds to multiple GCAUG and GCACG motifs in a xol-1 intron, causing intron retention or partial exon deletion, thereby eliminating male-determining XOL-1 protein. Transforming all motifs to GCAUG or GCACG permits accurate alternative splicing, demonstrating efficacy of both motifs. Mutating subsets of both motifs partially alleviates non-productive splicing. Mutating all motifs blocks it, as does transforming them to low-affinity GCUUG motifs. Combining multiple high-affinity binding sites with the two-fold change in FOX-1 concentration between XX and XO embryos achieves dose-sensitivity in splicing regulation to determine sex.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Barbara J Meyer
- Barbara J Meyer
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Douglas L Black, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
© 2020, Farboud et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The cohesin complex plays essential roles in chromosome segregation, 3D genome organisation, and DNA damage repair through its ability to modify DNA topology. In higher eukaryotes, meiotic chromosome function, and therefore fertility, requires cohesin complexes containing meiosis-specific kleisin subunits: REC8 and RAD21L in mammals and REC-8 and COH-3/4 in Caenorhabditis elegans. How these complexes perform the multiple functions of cohesin during meiosis and whether this involves different modes of DNA binding or dynamic association with chromosomes is poorly understood. Combining time-resolved methods of protein removal with live imaging and exploiting the temporospatial organisation of the C. elegans germline, we show that REC-8 complexes provide sister chromatid cohesion (SCC) and DNA repair, while COH-3/4 complexes control higher-order chromosome structure. High-abundance COH-3/4 complexes associate dynamically with individual chromatids in a manner dependent on cohesin loading (SCC-2) and removal (WAPL-1) factors. In contrast, low-abundance REC-8 complexes associate stably with chromosomes, tethering sister chromatids from S-phase until the meiotic divisions. Our results reveal that kleisin identity determines the function of meiotic cohesin by controlling the mode and regulation of cohesin–DNA association, and are consistent with a model in which SCC and DNA looping are performed by variant cohesin complexes that coexist on chromosomes.
Though long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) represent a substantial fraction of the Pol II transcripts in multicellular animals, only a few have known functions. Here we report that the blocking activity of the Bithorax complex (BX-C) Fub-1 boundary is segmentally regulated by its own lncRNA. The Fub-1 boundary is located between the Ultrabithorax (Ubx) gene and the bxd/pbx regulatory domain, which is responsible for regulating Ubx expression in parasegment PS6/segment A1. Fub-1 consists of two hypersensitive sites, HS1 and HS2. HS1 is an insulator while HS2 functions primarily as an lncRNA promoter. To activate Ubx expression in PS6/A1, enhancers in the bxd/pbx domain must be able to bypass Fub-1 blocking activity. We show that the expression of the Fub-1 lncRNAs in PS6/A1 from the HS2 promoter inactivates Fub-1 insulating activity. Inactivation is due to read-through as the HS2 promoter must be directed toward HS1 to disrupt blocking.