Expression of a
gfptransgene in the intestines of living Caenorhabditis eleganshas been measured following depletion by RNAi of a variety of known splicing factors and mRNA export proteins. Reduction of most splicing factors showed only a small effect on expression of the transgene in the animal injected with dsRNA, although most of these RNAi’s resulted in embryonic lethality in their offspring. In contrast, RNAi of nxf-1, the worm homolog of mammalian NXF1/TAP, a key component of the mRNA export machinery, resulted in dramatic suppression of GFP expression in the injected animals. When we tested other proteins previously reported to be involved in marking mRNAs for export, we obtained widely divergent results. Whereas RNAi of the worm REF/Aly homologs had no obvious effect, either in the injected animals or their offspring, RNAi of UAP56, reported to be the partner of REF/Aly, resulted in strong suppression of GFP expression due to nuclear retention of its mRNA. Overexpression of UAP56 also resulted in rapid loss of GFP expression and lethality at all stages of development. We conclude that UAP56 plays a key role in mRNA export in C. elegans, but that REF/Aly may not. It also appears that some RNA processing factors are required for viability (e.g., U2AF, PUF60, SRp54, SAP49, PRP8, U1-70K), whereas others are not (e.g., U2A′, CstF50).