A regulatory cytoplasmic poly(A) polymerase in Caenorhabditis elegans

Nature. 2002 Sep 19;419(6904):312-6. doi: 10.1038/nature01039.


Messenger RNA regulation is a critical mode of controlling gene expression. Regulation of mRNA stability and translation is linked to controls of poly(A) tail length. Poly(A) lengthening can stabilize and translationally activate mRNAs, whereas poly(A) removal can trigger degradation and translational repression. Germline granules (for example, polar granules in flies, P granules in worms) are ribonucleoprotein particles implicated in translational control. Here we report that the Caenorhabditis elegans gene gld-2, a regulator of mitosis/meiosis decision and other germline events, encodes the catalytic moiety of a cytoplasmic poly(A) polymerase (PAP) that is associated with P granules in early embryos. Importantly, the GLD-2 protein sequence has diverged substantially from that of conventional eukaryotic PAPs, and lacks a recognizable RRM (RNA recognition motif)-like domain. GLD-2 has little PAP activity on its own, but is stimulated in vitro by GLD-3. GLD-3 is also a developmental regulator, and belongs to the Bicaudal-C family of RNA binding proteins. We suggest that GLD-2 is the prototype for a class of regulatory cytoplasmic PAPs that are recruited to specific mRNAs by a binding partner, thereby targeting those mRNAs for polyadenylation and increased expression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / enzymology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / chemistry
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / immunology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cytoplasm / enzymology*
  • Dimerization
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / enzymology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Germ-Line Mutation / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Poly A / metabolism
  • Polyadenylation
  • Polynucleotide Adenylyltransferase / chemistry
  • Polynucleotide Adenylyltransferase / genetics*
  • Polynucleotide Adenylyltransferase / immunology
  • Polynucleotide Adenylyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA, Helminth / genetics
  • RNA, Helminth / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / immunology
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • RNA, Helminth
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Poly A
  • Polynucleotide Adenylyltransferase