Ribosome biogenesis is an important biological process for proper cellular function and development. Defects leading to improper ribosome biogenesis can cause diseases such as Diamond-Blackfan anemia and Shwachman-Bodian-Diamond syndrome. Nucleolar proteins are a large family of proteins and are involved in many cellular processes, including the regulation of ribosome biogenesis. Through a forward genetic screen and positional cloning, we identified and characterized a zebrafish line carrying mutation in nucleolar protein with MIF4G domain 1 (nom1), which encodes a conserved nulceolar protein with a role in pre-rRNA processing. Zebrafish nom1 mutants exhibit major defects in endoderm development, especially in exocrine pancreas. Further studies revealed that impaired proliferation of ptf1a-expressing pancreatic progenitor cells mainly contributed to the phenotype. RNA-seq and molecular analysis showed that ribosome biogenesis and pre-mRNA splicing were both affected in the mutant embryos. Several defects of ribosome assembly have been shown to have a p53-dependent mechanism. In the nom1 mutant, loss of p53 did not rescue the pancreatic defect, suggesting a p53-independent role. Further studies indicate that protein phosphatase 1 alpha, an interacting protein to Nom1, could partially rescue the pancreatic defect in nom1 morphants if a human nucleolar localization signal sequence was artificially added. This suggests that targeting Pp1? into the nucleolus by Nom1 is important for pancreatic proliferation. Altogether, our studies revealed a new mechanism involving Nom1 in controlling vertebrate exocrine pancreas formation.
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