In eukaryotic cells, the co-transcriptional mRNA processing and packaging reactions that lead to the formation of export competent messenger ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs) are under the surveillance of quality control (QC) steps. Aberrant mRNPs resulting from faulty events are detected by the QC apparatus and retained in the nucleus with ensuing elimination of their mRNA component by the RNA degradation machinery. A decade of biochemical and genetic experiments in yeast allowed the identification of the nuclear degradation machinery including the core exosome and its two associated catalytic subunits Rrp6p and Rrp44p, its cofactors Rrp47p and Mpp6p as well as the activator complex TRAMP. Similarly, studies of the THO-Sub2 complex of the mRNP assembly and export apparatus have provided valuable information on the nuclear retention and degradation of a particular class of aberrant mRNPs. However, a unifying mechanism of action underlying the QC process remains elusive. Here, we review the implementation of a new experimental approach whereby the production of aberrant mRNPs is massively increased upon heterologous expression of the bacterial Rho helicase in yeast. Using this methodology, we have shown that the QC process is coordinated by Nrd1p (a component of the early termination complex) whose increased co-transcriptional recruitment promotes the attachment of the 3’-5’ exonuclease Rrp6p along with the co-factors Rrp47p and Mpp6p. Interestingly, we established that Rrp6p functions independently from the core exosome, yet is stimulated by two forms of the TRAMP complex that include Trf4p or Trf5p and Air2p but not Air1p. The results suggest that specific substrates could be primed for decay via various QC pathways owing to the versatility of the mRNA degradation apparatus. In this context, the bacterial Rho helicase provides a valuable tool to decipher the QC molecular process in yeast and possibly the homologous process in mammalian cells.
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