The RNA-binding protein (RBP) LIN41, also known as LIN-41 or TRIM71, is a key regulator of animal development, but its physiological targets and molecular mechanism of action are largely elusive. Here we find that this RBP has two distinct mRNA-silencing activities. Using genome-wide ribosome profiling, RNA immunoprecipitation, and in vitro-binding experiments, we identify four mRNAs, each encoding a transcription factor or cofactor, as direct physiological targets of C. elegans LIN41. LIN41 silences three of these targets through their 3' UTRs, but it achieves isoform-specific silencing of one target, lin-29A, through its unique 5' UTR. Whereas the 3' UTR targets mab-10, mab-3, and dmd-3 undergo transcript degradation, lin-29A experiences translational repression. Through binding site transplantation experiments, we demonstrate that it is the location of the LIN41-binding site that specifies the silencing mechanism. Such position-dependent dual activity may, when studied more systematically, emerge as a feature shared by other RBPs.
Keywords: 3′ UTR; 5′ UTR; EGR; RNA-binding protein; heterochronic; mRNA degradation; positional effect; ribosome profiling; stem cell; translational repression.
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