A deadenylation negative feedback mechanism governs meiotic metaphase arrest


In vertebrate oocytes, meiotic progression is driven by the sequential translational activation of maternal messenger RNAs stored in the cytoplasm. This activation is mainly induced by the cytoplasmic elongation of their poly(A) tails, which is mediated by the cytoplasmic polyadenylation element (CPE) present in their 3′ untranslated regions1,2. In Xenopus oocytes, sequential phase-specific translation of CPE-regulated mRNAs is required to activate the maturation-promoting factor, which in turn mediates entry into the two consecutive meiotic metaphases (MI and MII)3,4,5,6. Here we report a genome-wide functional screening to identify previously unknown mRNAs cytoplasmically polyadenylated at meiotic phase transitions. A significant fraction of transcripts containing, in addition to CPEs, (A + U)-rich element (ARE) sequences (characteristic of mRNAs regulated by deadenylation7) were identified. Among these is the mRNA encoding C3H-4, an ARE-binding protein that we find to accumulate in MI and the ablation of which induces meiotic arrest. Our results suggest that C3H-4 recruits the CCR4 deadenylase complex to ARE-containing mRNAs and this, in turn, causes shortening of poly(A) tails. We also show that the opposing activities of the CPEs and the AREs define the precise activation times of the mRNAs encoding the anaphase-promoting complex inhibitors Emi1 and Emi2 during distinct phases of the meiotic cycle. Taken together, our results show that an ‘early’ wave of cytoplasmic polyadenylation activates a negative feedback loop by activating the synthesis of C3H-4, which in turn would recruit the deadenylase complex to mRNAs containing both CPEs and AREs. This negative feedback loop is required to exit from metaphase into interkinesis and for meiotic progression.

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Figure 1: Polyadenylation-induced translation of C3H-4 mRNA is required to exit MI.
Figure 2: C3H-4 mediates ARE-dependent deadenylation in oocytes by recruiting the CCR4 deadenylase to the mRNAs.
Figure 3: The polyadenylation profile is defined by the CPE arrangement and the presence of AREs.
Figure 4: The polyadenylation of emi1 and emi2 , CPE- and ARE-containing mRNAs, is regulated by CPEB and C3H-4.


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We thank J. D. Richter for the anti-CPEB antibody; E. Wahle for the dCCR4 antibody; T. U. Mayer for the Emi2 antibody; and M. Fernández, members of the Méndez laboratory, J. Valcarcel and other colleagues from the Gene Expression Program for advice and for critically reading the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the MEC, Fundación ‘La Caixa’ and Fundació ‘Marató de TV3’. R.M. is a recipient of a contract from the ‘Programa Ramon y Cajal’ (MEC).

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Correspondence to Raúl Méndez.

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Belloc, E., Méndez, R. A deadenylation negative feedback mechanism governs meiotic metaphase arrest. Nature 452, 1017–1021 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06809

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