Date of this Version
PNAS | January 7, 2020 | vol. 117 | no. 1 | 761–770
Small RNAs (sRNAs) associate with Argonaute (AGO) proteins in effector complexes, termed RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISCs), which regulate complementary transcripts by translation inhibition and/or RNA degradation. In the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas, several metazoans, and land plants, emerging evidence indicates that polyribosome-associated transcripts can be translationally repressed by RISCs without substantial messenger RNA (mRNA) destabilization. However, the mechanism of translation inhibition in a polyribosomal context is not understood. Here we show that Chlamydomonas VIG1, an ortholog of the Drosophila melanogaster Vasa intronic gene (VIG), is required for this process. VIG1 localizes predominantly in the cytosol and comigrates with monoribosomes and polyribosomes by sucrose density gradient sedimentation. A VIG1- deleted mutant shows hypersensitivity to the translation elongation inhibitor cycloheximide, suggesting that VIG1 may have a nonessential role in ribosome function/structure. Additionally, FLAG-tagged VIG1 copurifies with AGO3 and Dicer-like 3 (DCL3), consistent with it also being a component of the RISC. Indeed, VIG1 is necessary for the repression of sRNA-targeted transcripts at the translational level but is dispensable for cleavagemediated RNA interference and for the association of the AGO3 effector with polyribosomes or target transcripts. Our results suggest that VIG1 is an ancillary ribosomal component and plays a role in sRNA-mediated translation repression of polyribosomal transcripts.