The levels of the RoRNP-associated Y RNA are dependent upon the presence of ROP-1, the Caenorhabditis elegans Ro60 protein.
The Ro ribonucleoproteins (RoRNP) consist of at least one major protein of 60 kD, Ro60, and one small associated RNA, designated Y RNA. Although RoRNP have been found in all vertebrate species examined so far, their function remains unknown. The Caenorhabditis elegans rop-1 gene previously has been identified as encoding a Ro60 homologue. We report here the phenotypic characterization of a C. elegans strain in which rop-1 has been disrupted. This is the first report regarding the inactivation of a major RoRNP constituent in any organism. The rop-1 mutant worms display no visible defects. However, at the molecular level, the disruption of rop-1 results in a dramatic decrease in the levels of the ROP-1-associated RNA (CeY RNA). Moreover, transgenic expression of wild-type rop-1 partially rescues the levels of CeY RNA. Considering that transgenes are poorly expressed in the germline, the fact that the rescue is only partial is most likely related to the high abundance of the CeY RNA in the adult germline and in embryos. The developmental expression pattern and localization of CeY RNA suggest a role for this molecule during embryogenesis. We conclude that, under laboratory culture conditions, ROP-1 does not play a crucial role in C. elegans.