Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 23029343
PLoS ONE 2012;7(9):e45966
In higher eukaryotes, mRNA degradation and RNA-based gene silencing occur in cytoplasmic foci referred to as processing bodies (P-bodies). In protozoan parasites, the presence of P-bodies and their putative role in mRNA decay have yet to be comprehensively addressed. Identification of P-bodies might provide information on how mRNA degradation machineries evolved in lower eukaryotes. Here, we used immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy assays to investigate the cellular localization of mRNA degradation proteins in the human intestinal parasite Entamoeba histolytica and found evidence of the existence of P-bodies. Two mRNA decay factors, namely the EhXRN2 exoribonuclease and the EhDCP2 decapping enzyme, were localized in cytoplasmic foci in a pattern resembling P-body organization. Given that amoebic foci appear to be smaller and less rounded than those described in higher eukaryotes, we have named them “P-body-like structures”. These foci contain additional mRNA degradation factors, including the EhCAF1 deadenylase and the EhAGO2-2 protein involved in RNA interference. Biochemical analysis revealed that EhCAF1 co-immunoprecipitated with EhXRN2 but not with EhDCP2 or EhAGO2-2, thus linking deadenylation to 5′-to-3′ mRNA decay. The number of EhCAF1-containing foci significantly decreased after inhibition of transcription and translation with actinomycin D and cycloheximide, respectively. Furthermore, results of RNA-FISH assays showed that (i) EhCAF1 colocalized with poly(A)(+) RNA and (ii) during silencing of the Ehpc4 gene by RNA interference, EhAGO2-2 colocalized with small interfering RNAs in cytoplasmic foci. Our observation of decapping, deadenylation and RNA interference proteins within P-body-like foci suggests that these structures have been conserved after originating in the early evolution of eukaryotic lineages. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report on the localization of mRNA decay proteins within P-body-like structures in E. histolytica. Our findings should open up opportunities for deciphering the mechanisms of mRNA degradation and RNA-based gene silencing in this deep-branching eukaryote.