RNA helicase A is important for germline transcriptional control, proliferation, and meiosis in C. elegans.
Mech Dev. 2005 May . 122(5):707-20.
RNA helicase A (RHA) is a multifunctional protein with established roles in chromatin regulation. The protein is conserved in worms, Drosophila, and mammals, but its role in worms has not been previously studied. We found that a deletion mutant lacking rha-1 has a temperature-sensitive defect in germline transcriptional silencing, consistent with RHA-1 having a function in transcription regulation. Transcriptional desilencing in these rha-1(tm329) mutants was associated with a loss of lysine 9 methylation on histone H3 that is normally associated with silenced chromatin. Other histone modifications are also mis-localized in the germ cells in the mutants. These defects in histone modifications suggest that there is a general transcription regulation defect in the mutant worms that results in a temperature-sensitive sterile phenotype. At the restrictive temperature, the extent of germ cell mitoses is reduced, and the mutants are sterile due to defects in meiosis and gametogenesis. Our results suggest that RHA-1 is a conserved transcription regulation protein that controls germline proliferation and development in C. elegans.