Cell-type specific RNA-associated proteins are essential for development and homeostasis in animals. Despite a massive recent effort to systematically identify RNA-associated proteins, we currently have few comprehensive rosters of cell-type specific RNA-associated proteins in vertebrate tissues. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of determining the RNA-associated proteome of a defined vertebrate embryonic tissue using DIF-FRAC, a systematic and universal (i.e., label-free) method. Application of DIF-FRAC to cultured tissue explants of Xenopus mucociliary epithelium identified dozens of known RNA-associated proteins as expected, but also several novel RNA-associated proteins, including proteins related to assembly of the mitotic spindle and regulation of ciliary beating. In particular, we show that the inner dynein arm tether Cfap44 is an RNA-associated protein that localizes not only to axonemes, but also to liquid-like organelles in the cytoplasm called DynAPs. This result led us to discover that DynAPs are generally enriched for RNA. Together, these data provide a useful resource for a deeper understanding of mucociliary epithelia and demonstrate that DIF-FRAC will be broadly applicable for systematic identification of RNA-associated proteins from embryonic tissues.
Keywords: Cilia; DIF-FRAC; Proteomics; RNA; Xenopus.
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