A TB-RBP and Ter ATPase complex accompanies specific mRNAs from nuclei through the nuclear pores and into intercellular bridges in mouse male germ cells

Dev Biol. 2002 Jun 15;246(2):480-94. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2002.0679.


The testis brain RNA-binding protein (TB-RBP) functions as an RNA-binding protein in brain and testis, binding to conserved sequence elements present in specific mRNAs, such as protamine 1 and 2. We show here by RNA gel shift assays, immunoprecipitation, and by a novel in situ hybridization immunohistochemical technique that TB-RBP binds to AKAP4 mRNA in male mouse germ cells. AKAP4 is a component of the fibrous sheath and functions as a scaffolding protein in the sperm flagellum. AKAP4 is encoded by an X-linked gene, is expressed solely in postmeiotic (haploid) male germ cells, and is an essential protein in all spermatozoa, requiring its transport between spermatids as a protein or mRNA. AKAP4 mRNA forms a complex with TB-RBP and the Ter ATPase in nuclei and remains associated with these proteins as it exits nuclei into the cytoplasm and as it passes through intercellular bridges between spermatids. A similar mRNA-TB-RBP-Ter ATPase association is seen for protamine 2 mRNA, which is stored in the cytoplasm of postmeiotic germ cells about 7 days before translation. In contrast, no association is seen with PGK-2 mRNA which is initially transcribed early in meiosis with increased transcription in postmeiotic male germ cells. Although PGK-2 mRNA is subject to translational control, it lacks TB-RBP-binding sequences in its mRNA. The AKAP4 or protamine 2 mRNA-protein complexes dissociate in late-stage male germ cells when the mRNAs are translated. We propose that TB-RBP and the Ter ATPase are part of a complex that accompanies specific mRNAs in haploid mouse male germ cells in intracellular and intercellular movement. The temporal relationship of TB-RBP binding and mRNA inactivation in conjunction with the subsequent dissociation of the mRNA-protein complex at the time of mRNA translation suggests a role in translational suppression and/or mRNA stabilization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • DNA Primers
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • DNA Primers
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • TER ATPase