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Research Article

Carbon source-dependent alteration of Puf3p activity mediates rapid changes in the stabilities of mRNAs involved in mitochondrial function


The Puf family of RNA-binding proteins regulates gene expression primarily by interacting with the 3′ untranslated region (3′ UTR) of targeted mRNAs and inhibiting translation and/or stimulating decay. Physical association and computational analyses of yeast Puf3p identified >150 potential mRNA targets involved in mitochondrial function. However, only COX17 has been established as a target of Puf3p-mediated deadenylation and decapping. We have identified 10 new targets that are rapidly degraded in a Puf3p-dependent manner. We also observed changes in Puf3p activity in response to environmental conditions. Puf3p promotes rapid degradation of mRNA targets in the fermentable carbon source dextrose. However, Puf3p-mediated decay activity is inhibited in carbon sources that require mitochondrial function for efficient cell growth. In addition, the activity of Puf3p is rapidly altered by changing the carbon source. PUF3 expression is not decreased at the RNA or protein level by different carbon sources and localization is not significantly altered, suggesting that Puf3p activity is regulated posttranslationally. Finally, under conditions when Puf3p is unable to stimulate decay, Puf3p can still bind its target mRNAs. Together, these experiments provide insight into the carbon source-specific control of Puf3p activity and how such alterations allow Puf3p to dynamically regulate mitochondrial function.