The atypical RNA-binding protein Taf15 regulates dorsoanterior neural development through diverse mechanisms in Xenopus tropicalis


The FET family of atypical RNA-binding proteins includes Fused in sarcoma (FUS), Ewing’s sarcoma (EWS) and the TATA-binding protein-associate factor 15 (TAF15). FET proteins are highly conserved, suggesting specialized requirements for each protein. Fus regulates splicing of transcripts required for mesoderm differentiation and cell adhesion in Xenopus, but the roles of Ews and Taf15 remain unknown. Here, we analyze the roles of maternally deposited and zygotically transcribed Taf15, which is essential for the correct development of dorsoanterior neural tissues. By measuring changes in exon usage and transcript abundance from Taf15-depleted embryos, we found that Taf15 may regulate dorsoanterior neural development through fgfr4 and ventx2.1. Taf15 uses distinct mechanisms to downregulate Fgfr4 expression, namely retention of a single intron within fgfr4 when maternal and zygotic Taf15 is depleted, and reduction in the total fgfr4 transcript when zygotic Taf15 alone is depleted. The two mechanisms of gene regulation (post-transcriptional versus transcriptional) suggest that Taf15-mediated gene regulation is target and co-factor dependent, contingent on the milieu of factors that are present at different stages of development.