Gene expression patterns vary dramatically in a tissue-specific and age-dependent manner.
RNA-binding proteins that regulate mRNA turnover and/or translation (TTR-RBPs) critically affect the subsets of expressed proteins.
However, very little is known regarding the tissue- and age-dependent expression of TTR-RBPs in humans.
Scientists used human tissue arrays containing a panel of organ biopsies from donors of different ages, to study the distribution and abundance of four TTR-RBPs: HuR, AUF1, TIA-1, and TTP.
HuR and AUF1 were expressed with remarkably similar patterns.
Both TTR-RBPs were present in high percentages of cells and displayed elevated intensities in many age groups and tissues, most notably in the gastrointestinal and reproductive systems; they were moderately expressed in the urinary and immune systems, and were almost undetectable in muscle and brain.
TIA-1 was also abundant in many tissues and age groups; TIA-1 was expressed at high levels in the gastrointestinal, immune, urinary, and reproductive systems, and at low levels in brain and muscle.
By contrast, TTP-expressing cells, as well as TTP signal intensities declined with advancing age, particularly in the immune, nervous, and muscular systems; however, TTP levels remained elevated in the gastrointestinal tract.
The widespread abundance of HuR, AUF1, and TIA-1 throughout the body and in all age groups was in stark contrast with their declining levels in human diploid fibroblasts (HDFs) undergoing replicative senescence, a cultured-cell model of aging.
Conversely, TTP levels increased in senescent HDFs, while TTP levels decreased with advancing age.
These studies provide a framework for the study of human TTR-RBP function in different tissues, throughout the human life span.