New roles for the de-ubiquitylating enzyme OTUD4 in an RNA-protein network and RNA granules

J Cell Sci. 2019 Jun 17;132(12):jcs229252. doi: 10.1242/jcs.229252.


Mechanisms that regulate the formation of membrane-less cellular organelles, such as neuronal RNA granules and stress granules, have gained increasing attention over the past years. These granules consist of RNA and a plethora of RNA-binding proteins. Mutations in RNA-binding proteins have been found in neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). By performing pulldown experiments and subsequent mass spectrometry on mouse brain lysates, we discovered that the de-ubiquitylating enzyme OTU domain-containing protein 4 (OTUD4) unexpectedly is part of a complex network of multiple RNA-binding proteins, including core stress granule factors, such as FMRP (also known as FMR1), SMN1, G3BP1 and TIA1. We show that OTUD4 binds RNA, and that several of its interactions with RNA-binding proteins are RNA dependent. OTUD4 is part of neuronal RNA transport granules in rat hippocampal neurons under physiological conditions, whereas upon cellular stress, OTUD4 is recruited to cytoplasmic stress granules. Knockdown of OTUD4 in HeLa cells resulted in defects in stress granule formation and led to apoptotic cell death. Together, we characterize OTUD4 as a new RNA-binding protein with a suggested function in regulation of translation.

Keywords: De-ubiquitylating enzyme; RNA transport; Stress granule; Translation; Ubiquitin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism
  • DNA Helicases / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • RNA Recognition Motif Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases / genetics*
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • RNA Recognition Motif Proteins
  • OTUD4 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases
  • DNA Helicases