Translational suppression via IFG-1/eIF4G confers resistance to stress-induced RNA alternative splicing in Caenorhabditis elegans

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Splicing of pre-mRNA is an essential process for dividing cells and splicing defects have been linked to aging and various chronic diseases. Environmental stress has recently been shown to alter splicing fidelity and molecular mechanisms that protect against splicing disruption remains unclear. Using an in vivo RNA splicing reporter, we performed a genome-wide RNAi screen in Caenorhabditis elegans and found that protein translation suppression via silencing of the conserved initiation factor 4G (IFG-1/eIF4G) protects against cadmium-induced splicing disruption. Transcriptome analysis of an ifg-1 deficient mutant revealed an overall increase in splicing fidelity and resistance towards cadmium-induced alternative splicing compared to the wild-type. We found that the ifg-1 mutant up-regulates >80 RNA splicing regulatory genes that are controlled by the TGF-β transcription factor SMA-2. The extended lifespan of the ifg-1 mutant is partially reduced upon sma-2 depletion and completely nullified when core spliceosome genes including snr-1, snr-2 , and uaf-2 are knocked down. Together, these data describe a molecular mechanism that provides resistance towards stress-induced alternative splicing and demonstrate an essential role for RNA homeostasis in promoting longevity in a translation-compromised mutant.

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