Much remains unknown about the molecular regulation of meiosis. Here we show that meiosis-specific transcripts are selectively removed if expressed during vegetative growth in fission yeast. These messenger RNAs contain a cis-acting region - which we call the DSR - that confers this removal via binding to a YTH-family protein Mmi1. Loss of Mmi1 function severely impairs cell growth owing to the untimely expression of meiotic transcripts. Microarray analysis reveals that at least a dozen such meiosis-specific transcripts are eliminated by the DSR-Mmi1 system. Mmi1 remains in the form of multiple nuclear foci during vegetative growth. At meiotic prophase these foci precipitate to a single focus, which coincides with the dot formed by the master meiosis-regulator Mei2. A meiotic arrest due to the loss of the Mei2 dot is released by a reduction in Mmi1 activity. We propose that Mei2 turns off the DSR-Mmi1 system by sequestering Mmi1 to the dot and thereby secures stable expression of meiosis-specific transcripts.
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