P2P-R is a nuclear protein with potential functional roles in the control of gene expression and mitosis. The P2P-R protein also interacts with the p53 and Rb1 tumor suppressor proteins. To search for additional functional associations of P2P-R, we employed the WebQTL database that contains the results of cDNA microarray analysis on forebrain, cerebellum, and hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) specimens of multiple BXD recombinant inbred strains of mice. Using WebQTL, gene products were identified that show genetically based coexpression with P2P-R. Initial studies identified general groups of mRNAs that share common functional roles and high covariation in expression with P2P-R. These functional groups involved the regulation of transcription, nucleotide binding, translation control, and ion transport. The findings related to translational mechanisms were further evaluated. In HSCs, expression of P2P-R mRNA demonstrates an impressive expression correlation with a group of gene products associated with translation; high expression of P2P-R specifically was associated with decreased expression of 29 ribosomal protein mRNAs. In all three tissues that were screened using the WebQTL database, a strong positive expression covariance between P2P-R and the Pum2 gene product also was observed. PUM2 is a member of the highly conserved Puf family of RNA binding proteins that often function as gene-specific translation regulators. The ability of Puf proteins to repress translation is mediated by their binding to specific elements located in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of their target mRNAs. To assess the functional significance of the strong genetic correlation in expression of P2P-R and PUM2, the 3' UTR of the P2P-R mRNA was analyzed and found to contain one perfect consensus and two near-perfect consensus PUM2 binding sequences. PUM2 pull-down methods combined with reverse transcription and RT-PCR confirmed that PUM2 does indeed bind P2P-R mRNA. These results suggest that P2P-R expression may be translationally regulated by PUM2 and that P2P-R may modulate translation by influencing ribosomal protein gene expression. This study represents the first description of a RNA target for mammalian Puf proteins and the first molecular confirmation of information obtained using the WebQTL database.
(c) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.