Mechanism of siRNA production from repetitive DNA.
ABSTRACT: RNAi is a conserved genome defense mechanism in eukaryotes that protects against deleterious effects of transposons and viral invasion. Repetitive DNA loci are a major source for the production of eukaryotic small RNAs, but how these small RNAs are produced is not clear. Quelling in Neurospora is one of the first known RNAi-related phenomena and is triggered by the presence of multiple copies of transgenes. Here we showed that DNA tandem repeats and double-strand breaks are necessary and, when both are present, sufficient to trigger gene silencing and siRNA production. Introduction of a site-specific double-strand break or DNA fragile site resulted in homologous recombination of repetitive sequences, which is required for gene silencing. In addition to siRNA production, the quelling pathway also maintains tandem repeats by regulating homologous recombination. Our study identified the mechanistic trigger for siRNA production from repetitive DNA and established a role for siRNA in maintaining genome stability.
Project description:DNA double-strand breaks trigger the production of locus-derived siRNAs in fruit flies, human cells and plants. At least in flies, their biogenesis depends on active transcription running towards the break. Since siRNAs derive from a double-stranded RNA precursor, a major question is how broken DNA ends can generate matching sense and antisense transcripts. We performed a genome-wide RNAi-screen in cultured Drosophila cells, which revealed that in addition to DNA repair factors, many spliceosome components are required for efficient siRNA generation. We validated this observation through site-specific DNA cleavage with CRISPR-cas9 followed by deep sequencing of small RNAs. DNA breaks in intron-less genes or upstream of a gene's first intron did not efficiently trigger siRNA production. When DNA double-strand breaks were induced downstream of an intron, however, this led to robust siRNA generation. Furthermore, a downstream break slowed down splicing of the upstream intron and a detailed analysis of siRNA coverage at the targeted locus revealed that unspliced pre-mRNA contributes the sense strand to the siRNA precursor. Since splicing factors are stimulating the response but unspliced transcripts are entering the siRNA biogenesis, the spliceosome is apparently stalled in a pre-catalytic state and serves as a signaling hub. We conclude that convergent transcription at DNA breaks is stimulated by a splicing dependent control process. The resulting double-stranded RNA is converted into siRNAs that instruct the degradation of cognate mRNAs. In addition to a potential role in DNA repair, the break-induced transcription may thus be a means to cull improper RNAs from the transcriptome of Drosophila melanogaster. Since the splicing factors identified in our screen also stimulated siRNA production from high copy transgenes, it is possible that this surveillance mechanism serves in genome defense beyond DNA double-strand breaks.
Project description:Tandem repetitive DNA is highly abundant in eukaryotic genomes and contributes to transcription control and genome stability. However, how the individual sequences within tandem repeats behave remains largely unknown. Here we develop a collection of fission yeast strains with a reporter gene inserted at different units in a tandem repeat array. We show that, contrary to what is usually assumed, transcriptional silencing and replication timing among the individual repeats differ significantly. RNAi-mediated H3K9 methylation is essential for the silencing position effect. A short hairpin RNA of ura4(+) induces silencing in trans within the tandem array in a position-dependent manner. Importantly, the position effect depends on the condensin subunit, cut3(+). Cut3 promotes the position effect via interaction with the RNA-induced transcriptional silencing (RITS) complex. This study reveals variations in silencing within tandem DNA repeats and provides mechanistic insights into how DNA repeats at the individual level are regulated.
Project description:Approximately half the human genome is composed of repetitive DNA sequences classified into microsatellites, minisatellites, tandem repeats, and dispersed repeats. These repetitive sequences have coevolved within the genome but little is known about their potential interactions. Trinucleotide repeats (TNRs) are a subclass of microsatellites that are implicated in human disease. Expansion of CAG·CTG TNRs is responsible for Huntington disease, myotonic dystrophy, and a number of spinocerebellar ataxias. In yeast DNA double-strand break (DSB) formation has been proposed to be associated with instability and chromosome fragility at these sites and replication fork reversal (RFR) to be involved either in promoting or in preventing instability. However, the molecular basis for chromosome fragility of repetitive DNA remains poorly understood. Here we show that a CAG·CTG TNR array stimulates instability at a 275-bp tandem repeat located 6.3 kb away on the Escherichia coli chromosome. Remarkably, this stimulation is independent of both DNA double-strand break repair (DSBR) and RFR but is dependent on a functional mismatch repair (MMR) system. Our results provide a demonstration, in a simple model system, that MMR at one type of repetitive DNA has the potential to influence the stability of another. Furthermore, the mechanism of this stimulation places a limit on the universality of DSBR or RFR models of instability and chromosome fragility at CAG·CTG TNR sequences. Instead, our data suggest that explanations of chromosome fragility should encompass the possibility of chromosome gaps formed during MMR.
Project description:We used a two-component transgene system to study the RNA-dependent DNA methylation (RdDM) and transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) in Arabidopsis. By profiling the small RNA population in mutants defected in RdDM or RNA polymerase II-transcribed trigger for generating silencing siRNA, we investigated how repetitive loci such as tandem repeats were regulated transcriptionally through the action of RNA polymerase IV. Genome-wide small RNA profiling was done by Illumina TruSeq sample preparation followed by high-throughput sequencing with the Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform. The six samples represent mutants and their corresponding control lines.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>RNA silencing occurs in a broad range of organisms. Although its ancestral function is probably related to the genome defense mechanism against repetitive selfish elements, it has been found that RNA silencing regulates different cellular processes such as gene expression and chromosomal segregation. In Neurospora crassa, a RNA silencing mechanism, called quelling, acts to repress the expression of transgenes and transposons, but until now no other cellular functions have been shown to be regulated by this mechanism.<h4>Results</h4>Here, we detected by northern blotting endogenous short interfering RNA (siRNAs) from the repetitive ribosomal DNA locus (rDNA) that are loaded onto the argonaute protein QDE-2. Moreover, we found a bidirectional transcription that can generate double strand RNA (dsRNA) molecules. Interestingly, quelling mutants have a reduced rDNA gene copy number.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our finding could suggest a new biological function for RNA silencing in the maintenance of the integrity and stability of the Neurospora rDNA locus.
Project description:RNA interference (RNAi) is a conserved mechanism in which small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) guide the degradation of cognate RNAs, but also promote heterochromatin assembly at repetitive DNA elements such as centromeric repeats. However, the full extent of RNAi functions and its endogenous targets have not been explored. Here we show that, in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, RNAi and heterochromatin factors cooperate to silence diverse loci, including sexual differentiation genes, genes encoding transmembrane proteins, and retrotransposons that are also targeted by the exosome RNA degradation machinery. In the absence of the exosome, transcripts are processed preferentially by the RNAi machinery, revealing siRNA clusters and a corresponding increase in heterochromatin modifications across large domains containing genes and retrotransposons. We show that the generation of siRNAs and heterochromatin assembly by RNAi is triggered by a mechanism involving the canonical poly(A) polymerase Pla1 and an associated RNA surveillance factor Red1, which also activate the exosome. Notably, siRNA production and heterochromatin modifications at these target loci are regulated by environmental growth conditions, and by developmental signals that induce gene expression during sexual differentiation. Our analyses uncover an interaction between RNAi and the exosome that is conserved in Drosophila, and show that differentiation signals modulate RNAi silencing to regulate developmental genes.
Project description:Formation of centromeric heterochromatin in fission yeast requires the combined action of chromatin modifying enzymes and small RNAs derived from centromeric transcripts. Positive feedback mechanisms that link the RNAi pathway and the Clr4/Suv39h1 histone H3K9 methyltransferase complex (Clr-C) result in requirements for H3K9 methylation for full siRNA production and for siRNA production to achieve full histone methylation. Nonetheless, it has been proposed that the Argonaute protein, Ago1, is the key initial trigger for heterochromatin assembly via its association with Dicer-independent "priRNAs." The RITS complex physically links Ago1 and the H3-K9me binding protein Chp1. Here we exploit an assay for heterochromatin assembly in which loss of silencing by deletion of RNAi or Clr-C components can be reversed by re-introduction of the deleted gene. We showed previously that a mutant version of the RITS complex (Tas3(WG)) that biochemically separates Ago1 from Chp1 and Tas3 proteins permits maintenance of heterochromatin, but prevents its formation when Clr4 is removed and re-introduced. Here we show that the block occurs with mutants in Clr-C, but not mutants in the RNAi pathway. Thus, Clr-C components, but not RNAi factors, play a more critical role in assembly when the integrity of RITS is disrupted. Consistent with previous reports, cells lacking Clr-C components completely lack H3K9me2 on centromeric DNA repeats, whereas RNAi pathway mutants accumulate low levels of H3K9me2. Further supporting the existence of RNAi-independent mechanisms for establishment of centromeric heterochromatin, overexpression of clr4(+) in clr4?ago1? cells results in some de novo H3K9me2 accumulation at centromeres. These findings and our observation that ago1? and dcr1? mutants display indistinguishable low levels of H3K9me2 (in contrast to a previous report) challenge the model that priRNAs trigger heterochromatin formation. Instead, our results indicate that RNAi cooperates with RNAi-independent factors in the assembly of heterochromatin.
Project description:A challenge for large-scale siRNA loss-of-function studies is the biological pleiotropy resulting from multiple modes of action of siRNA reagents. A major confounding feature of these reagents is the microRNA-like translational quelling resulting from short regions of oligonucleotide complementarity to many different messenger RNAs. We developed a computational approach, deconvolution analysis of RNAi screening data, for automated quantitation of off-target effects in RNAi screening data sets. Substantial reduction of off-target rates was experimentally validated in five distinct biological screens across different genome-wide siRNA libraries. A public-access graphical-user-interface has been constructed to facilitate application of this algorithm.
Project description:The canonical exogenous trigger of RNA interference (RNAi) in mammals is small interfering RNA (siRNA). One promising application of RNAi is siRNA-based therapeutics, and therefore the optimization of siRNA efficacy is an important consideration. To reduce unfavorable properties of canonical 21mer siRNAs, structural and chemical variations to canonical siRNA have been reported. Several of these siRNA variants demonstrate increased potency in downstream readout-based assays, but the molecular mechanism underlying the increased potency is not clear. Here, we tested the performance of canonical siRNAs and several sequence-matched variants in parallel in gene silencing, RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) assembly, stability and Argonaute (Ago) loading assays. The commonly used 19mer with two deoxythymidine overhangs (19merTT) variant performed similarly to canonical 21mer siRNA. A shorter 16mer variant (16merTT) did not perform comparably in our assays. Dicer substrate interfering RNA (dsiRNA) demonstrated better gene silencing by the guide strand (target complementary strand), better RISC assembly, persistence of the guide strand and relatively more loading of the guide strand into Ago. Hence, we demonstrate the advantageous properties of dsiRNAs at upstream, intermediate and downstream molecular steps of the RNAi pathway.
Project description:We characterized at the molecular level the genomic rearrangements in 28 unrelated patients with 9q34.3 subtelomeric deletions. Four distinct categories were delineated: terminal deletions, interstitial deletions, derivative chromosomes and complex rearrangements; each results in haploinsufficiency of the EHMT1 gene and a characteristic phenotype. Interestingly, 25% of our patients had de novo interstitial deletions, 25% were found with derivative chromosomes and complex rearrangements and only 50% were bona fide terminal deletions. In contrast to genomic disorders that are often associated with recurrent rearrangements, breakpoints involving the 9q34.3 subtelomere region are highly variable. Molecular studies identified three regions of breakpoint grouping. Interspersed repetitive elements such as Alu, LINE, long-terminal repeats and simple tandem repeats are frequently observed at the breakpoints. Such repetitive elements may play an important role by providing substrates with a specific DNA secondary structure that stabilizes broken chromosomes or assist in either DNA double-strand break repair or repair of single double-strand DNA ends generated by collapsed forks. Sequence analyses of the breakpoint junctions suggest that subtelomeric deletions can be stabilized by both homologous and nonhomologous recombination mechanisms, through a telomere-capture event, by de novo telomere synthesis, or multistep breakage-fusion-bridge cycles.