Stress granules are cytoplasmic foci that directly respond to the protein synthesis status of the cell. Various environmental insults, such as oxidative stress or extreme heat, block protein synthesis; consequently, mRNA will stall in translation, and stress granules are immediately formed and enriched with mRNAs. P54 DEAD box RNA helicases are components of RNA granules such as P-bodies and stress granules. We studied the expression, in cytoplasmic foci, of both zebrafish P54 RNA helicases (P54a and P54b) during development and found that they are expressed in cytoplasmic granules under both normal conditions and stress conditions. In zebrafish embryos exposed to heat-shock, some proportion of P54a and P54b helicases move to larger granules that exhibit the properties of genuine stress granules. Knockdown of P54a and/or P54b in zebrafish embryos produces developmental abnormalities restricted to the posterior trunk; further, these embryos do not form stress granules, and their survival upon exposure to heat-shock conditions is compromised. Our observations fit the model that cells lacking stress granules have no resilience or ability to recover once the stress has ended, indicating that stress granules play an essential role in the way organisms adapt to a changing environment.
- Received November 3, 2015.
- Accepted July 26, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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