microRNAs (miRNAs) are crucial for normal development and physiology. To identify factors that might coordinate with miRNAs to regulate gene expression, we used 2'O-methylated oligonucleotides to precipitate Caenorhabditis elegans let-7, miR-58, and miR-2 miRNAs and the associated proteins. A total of 211 proteins were identified through mass-spectrometry analysis of miRNA co-precipitates, which included previously identified interactors of key miRNA pathway components. Gene ontology analysis of the identified interactors revealed an enrichment for RNA binding proteins, suggesting that we captured proteins that may be involved in mRNA lifecycle. To determine which miRNA interactors are important for miRNA activity, we used RNAi to deplete putative miRNA co-factors in animals with compromised miRNA activity and looked for alterations of the miRNA mutant phenotypes. Depletion of 25 of 39 tested genes modified the miRNA mutant phenotypes in three sensitized backgrounds. Modulators of miRNA phenotypes ranged from RNA binding proteins RBD-1 and CEY-1 to metabolic factors such as DLST-1 and ECH-5, among others. The observed functional interactions suggest widespread coordination of these proteins with miRNAs to ultimately regulate gene expression. This study provides a foundation for future investigations aimed at deciphering the molecular mechanisms of miRNA-mediated gene regulation.
- Caenorhabditis elegans/metabolism
- Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins/genetics
- RNA Interference
- RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics