Posttranscriptional regulation is of critical importance during mammalian spermiogenesis. A set of mRNAs that encode proteins critical to normal sperm formation are synthesized early in the process of male germ cell differentiation and are stored in a repressed state. These mRNAs are subsequently translationally activated during the process of spermatid elongation and maturation. Of note, the translationally repressed mRNAs contain long poly(A) tails that are dramatically shortened during the translational activation process. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie this process of mRNA storage and subsequent translational activation has been a long-standing goal. The relationship of the poly(A) tail to translational control is intimately related to the functions of the cognate poly(A)-binding proteins (PABPs). In this issue of the JCI, Yanagiya and colleagues use a set of knockout mice to demonstrate a novel functional role for a particular modulator of PABP function, PABP-interacting protein 2a (PAIP2A), in the normal terminal differentiation of male germ cells.
Hemant K. Kini, Melanie R. Vishnu, Stephen A. Liebhaber
Canonical pathway of developmentally regulated translational activation via poly(A) elongation.