Sequestration of highly expressed mRNAs in cytoplasmic granules, P-bodies, and stress granules enhances cell viability.
Transcriptome analyses indicate that a core 10%-15% of the yeast genome is modulated by a variety of different stresses. However, not all the induced genes undergo translation, and null mutants of many induced genes do not show elevated sensitivity to the particular stress. Elucidation of the RNA lifecycle reveals accumulation of non-translating mRNAs in cytoplasmic granules, P-bodies, and stress granules for future regulation. P-bodies contain enzymes for mRNA degradation; under stress conditions mRNAs may be transferred to stress granules for storage and return to translation. Protein degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system is elevated by stress; and here we analyzed the steady state levels, decay, and subcellular localization of the mRNA of the gene encoding the F-box protein, UFO1, that is induced by stress. Using the MS2L mRNA reporter system UFO1 mRNA was observed in granules that colocalized with P-bodies and stress granules. These P-bodies stored diverse mRNAs. Granules of two mRNAs transported prior to translation, ASH1-MS2L and OXA1-MS2L, docked with P-bodies. HSP12 mRNA that gave rise to highly elevated protein levels was not observed in granules under these stress conditions. ecd3, pat1 double mutants that are defective in P-body formation were sensitive to mRNAs expressed ectopically from strong promoters. These highly expressed mRNAs showed elevated translation compared with wild-type cells, and the viability of the mutants was strongly reduced. ecd3, pat1 mutants also exhibited increased sensitivity to different stresses. Our interpretation is that sequestration of highly expressed mRNAs in P-bodies is essential for viability. Storage of mRNAs for future regulation may contribute to the discrepancy between the steady state levels of many stress-induced mRNAs and their proteins. Sorting of mRNAs for future translation or decay by individual cells could generate potentially different phenotypes in a genetically identical population and enhance its ability to withstand stress.