Ago1, an effector protein of RNA interference (RNAi), regulates heterochromatin silencing and cell cycle arrest in fission yeast. However, the mechanism by which Ago1 controls cell cycle checkpoint following hydroxyurea (HU) treatment has not been elucidated. In this study, we show that Ago1 and other RNAi factors control cell cycle checkpoint following HU treatment via a mechanism independent of silencing. While silencing requires dcr1(+), the overexpression of ago1(+) alleviated the cell cycle defect in dcr1Δ. Ago1 interacted with the mRNA export factor, Ptr1. The ptr1-1 mutation impaired cell cycle checkpoint but gene silencing was unaffected. Genetic analysis revealed that the regulation of cell cycle checkpoint by ago1(+) is dependent on ptr1(+). Nuclear accumulation of poly(A)(+) RNAs was detected in mutants of ago1(+) and ptr1(+), suggesting there is a functional link between the cell cycle checkpoint and RNAi-mediated RNA quality control.
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