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Loss of Muscleblind Splicing Factor Shortens C. elegans Lifespan by Reducing the Activity of p38 MAPK/PMK-1 and Transcription Factors ATF-7 and Nrf/SKN-1

By Olli Matilainen, Ana R. S. Ribeiro, Jens Verbeeren, Murat Cetinbas, Ruslan I. Sadreyev, Susana M. D. A. Garcia

Posted 23 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.22.432374

Muscleblind-like splicing regulators (MBNLs) are alternative splicing factors that have an important role in developmental processes. Dysfunction of these factors is a key contributor of different neuromuscular degenerative disorders, including Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1). Since DM1 is a multisystemic disease characterized by symptoms resembling accelerated aging, we asked whether MBNLs regulate cellular processes required to maintain normal lifespan. By utilizing the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, we found that loss of MBL-1 (the sole ortholog of mammalian MBNLs), which is known to be required for normal lifespan, shortens lifespan by decreasing the activity of p38 MAPK/PMK-1 as well as the function of transcription factors ATF-7 and SKN-1. Furthermore, we show that mitochondrial stress caused by knockdown of mitochondrial electron transport chain components promotes the longevity of mbl-1 mutants in a partially PMK-1-dependent manner. Together, the data establish a mechanism of how DM1-associated loss of muscleblind affects lifespan. Furthermore, this study suggests that mitochondrial stress could alleviate symptoms caused by the dysfunction of muscleblind splicing factor, creating a potential approach to investigate for therapy. Reviewer token for the RNA-seq data (GEO: GSE146801): wvataksittaffcj

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