When exposed to stressful conditions, eukaryotic cells respond by inducing the formation of cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein complexes called stress granules. Stress granules are thought to have a protective function but their exact role is still unclear. Here we use C. elegans to study two proteins that have been shown to be important for stress granule assembly in human cells: PQN-59, the ortholog of human UBAP2L, and GTBP-1, the ortholog of the human G3BP1 and G3BP2 proteins. Both proteins fall into stress granules in the embryo and in the germline when C. elegans is exposed to stressful conditions. None of the two proteins is essential for the assembly of stress induced granules, but the granules formed in absence of PQN-59 or GTBP-1 are less numerous and dissolve faster than the ones formed in control embryos. Despite these differences, pqn-59 or gtbp-1 mutant embryos do not show a higher sensitivity to stress than control embryos. pqn-59 mutants display reduced progeny and a high percentage of embryonic lethality, phenotypes that are not dependent on stress exposure and that are not shared with gtbp-1 mutants. Our data indicate that both GTBP-1 and PQN-59 contribute to stress granule formation but that PQN-59 is, in addition, required for C. elegans development.
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