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Zygotic Expression of the Double-Stranded RNA Binding Motif Protein Drb2p Is Required for DNA Elimination in the Ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila

Motl, Jason A., Chalker, Douglas L.
Eukaryotic cell 2011 v.10 no.12 pp. 1648-1659
DNA, RNA-binding proteins, Tetrahymena thermophila, biogenesis, chromosome breakage, chromosome elimination, double-stranded RNA, genes, germ cells, growth and development, nuclear proteins, phenotype, progeny, protein synthesis, transcription (genetics), translation (genetics), vegetative growth
Double-stranded RNA binding motif (DSRM)-containing proteins play many roles in the regulation of gene transcription and translation, including some with tandem DSRMs that act in small RNA biogenesis. We report the characterization of the genes for double-stranded RNA binding proteins 1 and 2 (DRB1 and DRB2), two genes encoding nuclear proteins with tandem DSRMs in the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila. Both proteins are expressed throughout growth and development but exhibit distinct peaks of expression, suggesting different biological roles. In support of this, we show that expression of DRB2 is essential for vegetative growth while DRB1 expression is not. During conjugation, Drb1p and Drb2p localize to distinct nuclear foci. Cells lacking all DRB1 copies are able to produce viable progeny, although at a reduced rate relative to wild-type cells. In contrast, cells lacking germ line DRB2 copies, which thus cannot express Drb2p zygotically, fail to produce progeny, arresting late into conjugation. This arrest phenotype is accompanied by a failure to organize the essential DNA rearrangement protein Pdd1p into DNA elimination bodies and execute DNA elimination and chromosome breakage. These results implicate zygotically expressed Drb2p in the maturation of these nuclear structures, which are necessary for reorganization of the somatic genome.