Author:  Siddam AD, Gautier-Courteille C, Perez-Campos L, Anand D, Kakrana A, Dang CA, Legagneux V, Méreau A, Viet J, Gross JM, Paillard L, Lachke SA

Title: The RNA-binding protein Celf1 post-transcriptionally regulates p27Kip1 and Dnase2b to control fiber cell nuclear degradation in lens development

Summary: Opacification of the ocular lens, termed cataract, is a common cause of blindness. To become transparent, lens fiber cells undergo degradation of their organelles, including their nuclei, presenting a fundamental question: does signaling/transcription sufficiently explain differentiation of cells progressing toward compromised transcriptional potential? We report that a conserved RNA-binding protein Celf1 post-transcriptionally controls key genes to regulate lens fiber cell differentiation. Celf1-targeted knockout mice and celf1-knockdown zebrafish and Xenopus morphants have severe eye defects/cataract. Celf1 spatiotemporally down-regulates the cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) inhibitor p27Kip1 by interacting with its 5′ UTR and mediating translation inhibition. Celf1 deficiency causes ectopic up-regulation of p21Cip1. Further, Celf1 directly binds to the mRNA of the nuclease Dnase2b to maintain its high levels. Together these events are necessary for Cdk1-mediated lamin A/C phosphorylation to initiate nuclear envelope breakdown and DNA degradation in fiber cells. Moreover, Celf1 controls alternative splicing of the membrane-organization factor beta-spectrin and regulates F-actin-crosslinking factor Actn2 mRNA levels, thereby controlling fiber cell morphology. Thus, we illustrate new Celf1-regulated molecular mechanisms in lens development, suggesting that post-transcriptional regulatory RNA-binding proteins have evolved conserved functions to control vertebrate oculogenesis.

Source:  PLoS Genet. 2018 Mar 22;14(3):e1007278. eCollection 2018 Mar.