Genes with ATF5 binding sites within their promoters from Uncovering a mitochondrial unfolded protein response in corals and its role in adapting to a changing world
2019-06-17T09:11:11Z (GMT) by
The Anthropocene will be characterized by increased environmental disturbances, leading to the survival of stress-tolerant organisms particularly in the oceans where novel marine diseases and elevated temperatures are re-shaping ecosystems. These environmental changes underscore the importance of identifying mechanisms which promote stress tolerance in ecologically important non-model species such as reef-building corals. Mitochondria are central regulators of cellular stress and have dedicated recovery pathways including the mitochondrial unfolded protein response, which increases the transcription of protective genes promoting protein homeostasis, free radical detoxification and innate immunity. In this investigation, we identify a mitochondrial unfolded protein response in the endangered Caribbean coral Orbicella faveolata, by performing in vivo functional replacement using a transcription factor (Of-ATF5) originating from a coral in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. In addition, we use RNA-seq network analysis and transcription factor-binding predictions to identify a transcriptional network of genes likely regulated by Of-ATF5 which is induced during the immune challenge and temperature stress. Overall, our findings uncover a conserved cellular pathway which may promote the ability of reef-building corals to survive increasing levels of environmental stress.