Cell Cycle 2014 25;13(3):434-9. Epub 2013 Nov 25.
Department of Molecular Medicine; Sapienza University; Rome, Italy.
CCHC-type zinc finger nucleic acid binding protein (CNBP) is a small conserved protein, which plays a key role in development and disease. Studies in animal models have shown that the absence of CNBP results in severe developmental defects that have been mostly attributed to its ability to regulate c-myc mRNA expression. Functionally, CNBP binds single-stranded nucleic acids and acts as a molecular chaperone, thus regulating both transcription and translation. In this work we report that in Drosophila melanogaster, CNBP is an essential gene, whose absence causes early embryonic lethality. In contrast to what observed in other species, ablation of CNBP does not affect dMyc mRNA expression, whereas the protein levels are markedly reduced. We demonstrate for the first time that dCNBP regulates dMyc translation through an IRES-dependent mechanism, and that knockdown of dCNBP in the wing territory causes a general reduction of wing size, in keeping with the reported role of dMyc in this region. Consistently, reintroduction of dMyc in CNBP-deficient wing imaginal discs rescues the wing size, further supporting a key role of the CNBP-Myc axis in this context. Collectively, these data show a previously uncharacterized mechanism, whereby, by regulating dMyc IRES-dependent translation, CNBP controls Drosophila wing development. These results may have relevant implications in other species and in pathophysiological conditions.