Whi3, a developmental regulator of budding yeast, binds a large set of mRNAs functionally related to the endoplasmic reticulum
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Whi3 is an RNA-binding protein associated with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that binds the CLN3 mRNA and plays a key role in the efficient retention of cyclin Cln3 at the ER. In the present work, we have identified new Whi3-associated mRNAs by a genomic approach. A large and significant number of these Whi3 targets encode for membrane and exocytic proteins involved in processes such as transport and cell wall biogenesis. Consistent with the genomic data, we have observed that cell wall integrity is compromised in Whi3-deficient cells and found strong genetic interactions between WHI3 and the cell integrity pathway. Whi3-associated mRNAs are enriched in clusters of the tetranucleotide GCAU, and mutation of the GCAU clusters in the CLN3 mRNA caused a reduction in its association to Whi3, suggesting that these sequences may act as cis-determinants for binding. Our data suggest that Whi3 is involved in the regulation and/or localization of a large subset of mRNAs functionally related to the ER and, since it is important for different molecular processes such as cytoplasmic retention or exocytic traffic of proteins, we propose that Whi3 is a general modulator of protein fate in budding yeast.