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Huelgas-Morales, Gabriela; Giovanni Silva-Garcia, Carlos; Salinas, Laura S; Greenstein, David; Navarro, Rosa E (2016)

THE STRESS GRANULE RNA-BINDING PROTEIN TIAR-1 PROTECTS FEMALE GERM CELLS FROM HEAT SHOCK IN CAENORHABDITIS ELEGANS

G3 (Bethesda) 6(4):1031-1047
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In response to stressful conditions, eukaryotic cells launch an arsenal of regulatory programs to protect the proteome. One major protective response involves the arrest of protein translation and the formation of stress granules, cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein complexes containing the conserved RNA-binding proteins TIA-1 and TIAR. The stress granule response is thought to preserve mRNA for translation when conditions improve. For cells of the germline, the immortal cell lineage required for sexual reproduction, protection from stress must be critically important for perpetuation of the species, yet how stress granule regulatory mechanisms are deployed in animal reproduction is incompletely understood. Here we show that the stress granule protein TIAR-1 protects the C. elegans germline from the adverse effects of heat shock. Animals containing strong loss-of-function mutations in tiar-1 exhibit significantly reduced fertility compared to the wild type following heat shock. Analysis of a heat shock protein promoter indicates that tiar-1 mutants display an impaired heat shock response. We observed that TIAR-1 was associated with granules in the gonad core and oocytes during several stressful conditions. Both gonad core and oocyte granules are dynamic structures that depend on translation; protein synthesis inhibitors altered their formation. Nonetheless, tiar-1 was required for the formation of gonad core granules only. Interestingly, the gonad core granules did not seem to be needed for the germ cells to develop viable embryos after heat shock. This suggests that TIAR-1 is able to protect the germline from heat stress independently of these structures.