Assessing the function of the Ro ribonucleoprotein complex using Caenorhabditis elegans as a biological tool.
The Ro ribonucleoprotein complex (Ro RNP) was initially described as an autoimmune target in human diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren’s syndrome. In Xenopus and human cells, its general structure is composed of one major protein of 60 kDa, Ro60, that binds to one of four small RNA molecules, designated Y RNAs. Although no function has been assigned to the Ro RNP, Ro60 has been shown to bind mutant 5S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) molecules in Xenopus oocytes, suggesting a role for Ro60 in 5S rRNA biogenesis. Ro60 has also been shown to participate in the regulation of the translational fate of the L4 ribosomal protein mRNA by interacting with the 5′ untranslated region, again suggesting its possible implication in ribosome biogenesis. To identify the function of Ro RNP, we have taken a genetic approach in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. As such, we characterized the gene encoding the protein ROP-1, the homologue of the human Ro60 protein. Here, we review the phenotypic analysis of C. elegans rop-l(-) mutants and integrate these results into a model for the function of the Ro RNP particle.