The hnRNP F/H homologue ofTrypanosoma bruceiis differentially expressed in the two life cycle stages of the parasite and regulates splicing and mRNA stability

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Trypanosomes are protozoan parasites that cycle between a mammalian host (bloodstream form) and an insect host, the Tsetse fly (procyclic stage). In trypanosomes, all mRNAs aretrans-spliced as part of their maturation. Genome-wide analysis oftrans-splicing indicates the existence of alternativetrans-splicing, but little is known regarding RNA-binding proteins that participate in such regulation. In this study, we performed functional analysis of theTrypanosoma bruceiheterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNP) F/H homologue, a protein known to regulate alternative splicing in metazoa. The hnRNP F/H is highly expressed in the bloodstream form of the parasite, but is also functional in the procyclic form. Transcriptome analyses of RNAi-silenced cells were used to deduce the RNA motif recognized by this protein. A purine rich motif, AAGAA, was enriched in both the regulatory regions flanking the 3′ splice site and poly (A) sites of the regulated genes. The motif was further validated using mini-genes carrying wild-type and mutated sequences in the 3′ and 5′ UTRs, demonstrating the role of hnRNP F/H in mRNA stability and splicing. Biochemical studies confirmed the binding of the protein to this proposed site. The differential expression of the protein and its inverse effects on mRNA level in the two lifecycle stages demonstrate the role of hnRNP F/H in developmental regulation.

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