RNA interactome capture provides new insights into embryo development

Two recent reports have determined the RNA interactome of Drosophila melanogaster embryos, revealing hundreds of novel RBPs. One of this works study the plasticity of the RBPome during development by comparing RNA-binding activities in early and late embryo. This analysis reveal the high adaptation capacity of the RBPome to physiological changes.

Nat Commun. 2016 Jul 5;7:12128. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12128.

Global changes of the RNA-bound proteome during the maternal-to-zygotic transition in Drosophila.

The maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT) is a process that occurs in animal embryos at the earliest developmental stages, during which maternally deposited mRNAs and other molecules are degraded and replaced by products of the zygotic genome. The zygotic genome is not activated immediately upon fertilization, and in the pre-MZT embryo post-transcriptional control by RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) orchestrates the first steps of development. To identify relevant Drosophila RBPs organism-wide, we refined the RNA interactome capture method for comparative analysis of the pre- and post-MZT embryos. We determine 523 proteins as high-confidence RBPs, half of which were not previously reported to bind RNA. Comparison of the RNA interactomes of pre- and post-MZT embryos reveals high dynamicity of the RNA-bound proteome during early development, and suggests active regulation of RNA binding of some RBPs. This resource provides unprecedented insight into the system of RBPs that govern the earliest steps of Drosophila development.

Genome Res. 2016 Jul;26(7):1000-9. doi: 10.1101/gr.200386.115. Epub 2016 Apr 28.

The mRNA-bound proteome of the early fly embryo.

Early embryogenesis is characterized by the maternal to zygotic transition (MZT), in which maternally deposited messenger RNAs are degraded while zygotic transcription begins. Before the MZT, post-transcriptional gene regulation by RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) is the dominant force in embryo patterning. We used two mRNA interactome capture methods to identify RBPs bound to polyadenylated transcripts within the first 2 h of Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis. We identified a high-confidence set of 476 putative RBPs and confirmed RNA-binding activities for most of 24 tested candidates. Most proteins in the interactome are known RBPs or harbor canonical RBP features, but 99 exhibited previously uncharacterized RNA-binding activity. mRNA-bound RBPs and TFs exhibit distinct expression dynamics, in which the newly identified RBPs dominate the first 2 h of embryonic development. Integrating our resource with in situ hybridization data from existing databases showed that mRNAs encoding RBPs are enriched in posterior regions of the early embryo, suggesting their general importance in posterior patterning and germ cell maturation.