The unfolded protein response (UPR) monitors and adjusts the protein folding capacity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In S. pombe, the ER membrane-resident kinase/endoribonuclease Ire1 utilizes a mechanism of selective degradation of ER-bound mRNAs (RIDD) to maintain homeostasis. We used a genetic screen to identify factors critical to the Ire1-mediated UPR and found several proteins, Dom34, Hbs1 and Ski complex subunits, previously implicated in ribosome rescue and mRNA no-go-decay (NGD). Ribosome profiling in ER-stressed cells lacking these factors revealed that Ire1-mediated cleavage of ER-associated mRNAs results in ribosome stalling and mRNA degradation. Stalled ribosomes iteratively served as a ruler to template precise, regularly spaced upstream mRNA cleavage events. This clear signature uncovered hundreds of novel target mRNAs. Our results reveal that the UPR in S. pombe executes RIDD in an intricate interplay between Ire1, translation, and the NGD pathway, and establish a critical role for NGD in maintaining ER homeostasis.
Keywords: RNA decay; S. pombe; cell biology; endonuclease; proteostasis; ribosome footprinting; ribosome quality control; ribosome stalling.