Post-transcriptional control of executioner caspases by RNA-binding proteins

Deni Subasic, Thomas Stoeger, Seline Eisenring, Ana M. Matia-González, Jochen Imig, Xue Zheng, Lei Xiong, Pascal Gisler, Ralf Eberhard, René Holtackers, André P. Gerber, Lucas Pelkmans, Michael O. Hengartner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Caspases are key components of apoptotic pathways. Regulation of caspases occurs at several levels, including transcription, proteolytic processing, inhibition of enzymatic function, and protein degradation. In contrast, little is known about the extent of post-transcriptional control of caspases. Here, we describe four conserved RNA-binding proteins (RBPs)—PUF-8, MEX-3, GLD-1, and CGH-1—that sequentially repress the CED-3 caspase in distinct regions of the Caenorhabditis elegans germline. We demonstrate that GLD-1 represses ced-3 mRNA translation via two binding sites in its 3 untranslated region (UTR), thereby ensuring a dual control of unwanted cell death: at the level of p53/CEP-1 and at the executioner caspase level. Moreover, we identified seven RBPs that regulate human caspase-3 expression and/or activation, including human PUF-8, GLD-1, and CGH-1 homologs PUM1, QKI, and DDX6. Given the presence of unusually long executioner caspase 3 UTRs in many metazoans, translational control of executioner caspases by RBPs might be a strategy used widely across the animal kingdom to control apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2213-2225
Number of pages13
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Apoptosis
  • CED-3
  • Caspase
  • Caspase-3
  • GLD-1
  • RNA-binding proteins
  • Translational control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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