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The Drosophila GW protein, a posttranscriptional gene regulator that influences progression through mitosis Open Access


Other title
mRNA regulation
P bodies
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Schneider, Mary
Supervisor and department
Dr. A. Simmonds, Cell Biology
Examining committee member and department
Dr. M. Fritzler, Medicine, University of Calgary
Dr. R. Rachubinski, Cell Biology
Dr. S. Campbell, Biological Sciences
Dr. P. LaPointe, Cell Biology
Dr. A. Simmonds, Cell Biology
Department of Cell Biology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Regulation of mRNA translation and stability can occur in cytoplasmic compartments known as mRNA processing bodies or P bodies. These compartments contain factors that function in multiple mRNA regulatory pathways and are thought to be centres for coordinating the action of these pathways. One class of proteins that resides in P bodies belongs to the conserved family of GW proteins. Members from this family have been identified only in metazoan genomes and include the prototype human GW182 protein and two additional human paralogues and Caenorhabditis elegans Ain-1 and Ain-2 proteins. In this study, the single Drosophila melanogaster gene encoding a GW protein was characterized. The similarity in structure and function of this gene that were observed in this study, with human orthologues suggest that Drosophila is an appropriate experimentally tractable organism for further advancements in understanding the functions of the human orthologues. This study also contributed evidence supporting the involvement of Drosophila GW in the RNA interference pathway through a physical association with Argonaute 2, an important effector in this pathway. A Drosophila strain carrying a mutation in the gw gene showed multiple mitotic defects in homozygous mutant embryos. The mutant strain was named gawky because of the uncoordinated chromatin movements that were observed in live mutant embryos undergoing mitosis. This observation suggests that Drosophila GW may control the stability and/or translation of mRNAs encoding cell cycle regulators. The endoribonuclease RNase MRP was chosen as a potential mRNA regulator that may be affected in the gw1 mutant strain. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, RNase MRP degrades the mRNA of the major mitotic cyclin Clb2 and localizes to a P body-like structure. Human RNase MRP also influences the levels of cyclin B mRNA. MRP RNA, the non-coding RNA component of the RNase MRP enzyme has not been previously studied in Drosophila. In this study, expression of Drosophila MRP RNA was verified. MRP RNA was also localized to a subpopulation of structures containing Drosophila GW during mitosis, suggesting that these two components may functionally interact in regulating mitosis.
License granted by Mary Schneider ( on 2009-10-05T17:07:02Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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