The double-stranded RNA binding protein RDE-4 can act cell autonomously during feeding RNAi in C. elegans.
ABSTRACT: Long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) can silence genes of matching sequence upon ingestion in many invertebrates and is therefore being developed as a pesticide. Such feeding RNA interference (RNAi) is best understood in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, where the dsRNA-binding protein RDE-4 initiates silencing by recruiting an endonuclease to process long dsRNA into short dsRNA. These short dsRNAs are thought to move between cells because muscle-specific rescue of rde-4 using repetitive transgenes enables silencing in other tissues. Here, we extend this observation using additional promoters, report an inhibitory effect of repetitive transgenes, and discover conditions for cell-autonomous silencing in animals with tissue-specific rescue of rde-4. While expression of rde-4(+) in intestine, hypodermis, or neurons using a repetitive transgene can enable silencing also in unrescued tissues, silencing can be inhibited wihin tissues that express a repetitive transgene. Single-copy transgenes that express rde-4(+) in body-wall muscles or hypodermis, however, enable silencing selectively in the rescued tissue but not in other tissues. These results suggest that silencing by the movement of short dsRNA between cells is not an obligatory feature of feeding RNAi in C. elegans. We speculate that similar control of dsRNA movement could modulate tissue-specific silencing by feeding RNAi in other invertebrates.
Project description:Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) can cause specific gene silencing upon ingestion in many animals and is being developed as a pesticide to target essential genes in animal pests. However, the organismal response to ingested dsRNA that leads to eventual gene silencing within animals is unknown. In the worm C. elegans, ingested dsRNA is recruited into the RNA interference pathway by the dsRNA-binding protein RDE-4 for eventual gene silencing by Argonaute proteins. We found that when RDE-4 was expressed at high levels within a tissue, silencing by ingested dsRNA could occur in rde-4(-) somatic tissues but not in the rde-4(-) germline. Such silencing by dsRNA-derived mobile RNA had different Argonaute requirements and could escape inhibition by expressed repetitive DNA. Thus, our results suggest that, when animals ingest dsRNA, the ingested dsRNA and dsRNA-derived mobile RNAs use distinct mechanisms to silence genes. Overall design: The wild-type N2 strain was subjected to L4440 feeding RNAi (control) or bli-1 feeding RNAi in liquid culture. Total RNA was isolated from both worm cultures and subjected to poly-A-selected RNA-Seq using the Illumina HiSeq1500 platform. The coverage for each gene of interest was determined after mapping to ce6 using TopHat2.
Project description:C. elegans Dicer requires an accessory double-stranded RNA binding protein, RDE-4, to enact the first step of RNA interference, the cleavage of dsRNA to produce siRNA. While RDE-4 is typically essential for RNAi, we report that in the presence of high concentrations of trigger dsRNA, rde-4 deficient animals are capable of silencing a transgene. By multiple criteria the silencing occurs by the canonical RNAi pathway. For example, silencing is RDE-1 dependent and exhibits a decrease in the targeted mRNA in response to an increase in siRNA. We also find that high concentrations of dsRNA trigger lead to increased accumulation of primary siRNAs, consistent with the existence of a rate-limiting step during the conversion of primary to secondary siRNAs. Our studies also revealed that transgene silencing occurs at low levels in the soma, even in the presence of ADARs, and that at least some siRNAs accumulate in a temperature-dependent manner. We conclude that an RNAi response varies with different conditions, and this may allow an organism to tailor a response to specific environmental signals.
Project description:Organism-wide RNA interference (RNAi) is due to the transport of mobile silencing RNA throughout the organism, but the identities of these mobile RNA species in animals are unknown. Here, we present genetic evidence that both the initial double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), which triggers RNAi, and at least one dsRNA intermediate produced during RNAi can act as or generate mobile silencing RNA in C. elegans. This dsRNA intermediate requires the long dsRNA-binding protein RDE-4, the endonuclease DCR-1, which cleaves long dsRNA into double-stranded short-interfering RNA (ds-siRNA), and the putative nucleotidyltransferase MUT-2 (RDE-3). However, single-stranded siRNA and downstream secondary siRNA produced upon amplification by the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase RRF-1 do not generate mobile silencing RNA. Restricting intertissue transport to long dsRNA and directly processed siRNA intermediates rather than amplified siRNA may serve to modulate the extent of systemic silencing in proportion to available dsRNA.
Project description:RNA interference (RNAi) is a post-transcriptional silencing process, triggered by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), leading to the destabilization of homologous mRNAs. A distinction has been made between endogenous RNAi-related pathways and the exogenous RNAi pathway, the latter being essential for the experimental use of RNAi. Previous studies have shown that, in Caenorhabditis elegans, a complex containing the enzymes Dicer and the Argonaute RDE-1 process dsRNA. Dicer is responsible for cleaving dsRNA into short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) while RDE-1 acts as the siRNA acceptor. RDE-1 then guides a multi-protein complex to homologous targets to trigger mRNA destabilization. However, endogenous role(s) for RDE-1, if any, have remained unexplored. We here show that RDE-1 functions as a scavenger protein, taking up small RNA molecules from many different sources, including the microRNA (miRNA) pathway. This is in striking contrast to Argonaute proteins functioning directly in the miRNA pathway, ALG-1 and ALG-2: these proteins exclusively bind miRNAs. While playing no significant role in the biogenesis of the main pool of miRNAs, RDE-1 binds endogenous miRNAs and triggers RdRP activity on at least one perfectly matching, endogenous miRNA target. The resulting secondary siRNAs are taken up by a set of Argonaute proteins known to act as siRNA acceptors in exogenous RNAi, resulting in strong mRNA destabilization. Our results show that RDE-1 in an endogenous setting is actively screening the transcriptome using many different small RNAs, including miRNAs, as a guide, with implications for the evolution of transcripts with a potential to be recognized by Dicer.
Project description:RNA interference (RNAi) designates the multistep process by which double-stranded RNA induces the silencing of homologous endogenous genes. Some aspects of RNAi appear to be conserved throughout evolution, including the processing of trigger dsRNAs into small 21-23-bp siRNAs and their use to guide the degradation of complementary mRNAs. Two remarkable features of RNAi were uncovered in plants and Caenorhabditid elegans. First, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activities allow the synthesis of siRNA complementary to sequences upstream of or downstream from the initial trigger region in the target mRNA, leading to a transitive RNAi with sequences that had not been initially targeted. Secondly, systemic RNAi may cause the targeting of gene silencing in one tissue to spread to other tissues. Using transgenes expressing dsRNA, we investigated whether transitive and systemic RNAi occur in Drosophila. DsRNA-producing transgenes targeted RNAi to specific regions of alternative mRNA species of one gene without transitive effect directed to sequences downstream from or upstream of the initial trigger region. Moreover, specific expression of a dsRNA, using either cell-specific GAL4 drivers or random clonal activation of a GAL4 driver, mediated a cell-autonomous RNAi. Together, our results provide evidence that transitive and systemic aspects of RNAi are not conserved in Drosophila and demonstrate that dsRNA-producing transgenes allow powerful reverse genetic approaches to be conducted in this model organism, by knocking down gene functions at the resolution of a single-cell type and of a single isoform.
Project description:Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) triggers RNA interference (RNAi) to silence genes of matching sequence. In some animals this experimentally induced silencing is transported between cells, and studies in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans have shown that the dsRNA channel SID-1 is required for the import of such transported silencing signals. Gene silencing can also be triggered by endogenously expressed RNAi triggers, but it is unknown whether such silencing is transported between cells. Here, we show that, in C. elegans, SID-1 is required for efficient silencing of multicopy transgenes, indicating that mobile silencing signals contribute to transgene silencing. Further, most tissues can transport silencing initiated by the tissue-specific transgenic expression of RNAi triggers to other tissues, consistent with expressed RNAi triggers generating mobile silencing signals. Whereas the import of silencing signals requires SID-1, we found that mobile silencing signals generated by transgene-expressed RNAi triggers are exported to other tissues through a SID-1-independent mechanism. Furthermore, when RNAi triggers are expressed in ingested Escherichia coli, silencing signals can be transported to internal tissues from the gut lumen across gut cells that lack SID-1. Thus, C. elegans can transport endogenous and exogenous RNA silencing signals between many different tissues via at least 2 SID-1 independent export pathways.
Project description:In Caenorhabditis elegans, the activity of transposable elements is repressed in the germline. One of the mechanisms involved in this repression is RNA interference (RNAi), a process in which dsRNA targets cleavage of mRNAs in a sequence-specific manner. The first gene found to be involved in RNAi and transposon silencing in C.elegans is mut-7, a gene encoding a putative exoribonuclease. Here, we show that the MUT-7 protein resides in complexes of approximately 250 kDa in the nucleus and in the cytosol. In addition, we find that upon triggering of RNAi the cytosolic MUT-7 complex increases in size. This increase is independent of the presence of target RNA, but does depend on the presence of RDE-1 and RDE-4, two proteins involved in small interfering RNA (siRNA) production. Finally, using a yeast two-hybrid screen, we identified RDE-2/MUT-8 as one of the other components of this complex. This protein is encoded by the rde-2/mut-8 locus, previously implicated in RNAi and transposon silencing. Using genetic complementation analysis, we show that the interaction between these two proteins is required for efficient RNAi in vivo. Together these data support a role for the MUT-7/RDE-2 complex downstream of siRNA formation, but upstream of siRNA mediated target RNA recognition, possibly indicating a role in the siRNA amplification step.
Project description:In many eukaryotes, RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRPs) play key roles in the RNAi pathway. They have been implicated in the recognition and processing of aberrant transcripts triggering the process, and in amplification of the silencing response. We have tested the functions of RdRP genes from the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia in experimentally induced and endogenous mechanisms of gene silencing. In this organism, RNAi can be triggered either by high-copy, truncated transgenes or by directly feeding cells with double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Surprisingly, dsRNA-induced silencing depends on the putatively functional RDR1 and RDR2 genes, which are required for the accumulation of both primary siRNAs and a distinct class of small RNAs suggestive of secondary siRNAs. In contrast, a third gene with a highly divergent catalytic domain, RDR3, is required for siRNA accumulation when RNAi is triggered by truncated transgenes. Our data further implicate RDR3 in the accumulation of previously described endogenous siRNAs and in the regulation of the surface antigen gene family. While only one of these genes is normally expressed in any clonal cell line, the knockdown of RDR3 leads to co-expression of multiple antigens. These results provide evidence for a functional specialization of Paramecium RdRP genes in distinct RNAi pathways operating during vegetative growth.
Project description:RNA interference is a powerful tool for dissecting gene function. In Caenorhabditis elegans, ingestion of double stranded RNA causes strong, systemic knockdown of target genes. Further insight into gene function can be revealed by tissue-specific RNAi techniques. Currently available tissue-specific C. elegans strains rely on rescue of RNAi function in a desired tissue or cell in an otherwise RNAi deficient genetic background. We attempted to assess the contribution of specific tissues to polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) synthesis using currently available tissue-specific RNAi strains. We discovered that rde-1 ( ne219 ), a commonly used RNAi-resistant mutant strain, retains considerable RNAi capacity against RNAi directed at PUFA synthesis genes. By measuring changes in the fatty acid products of the desaturase enzymes that synthesize PUFAs, we found that the before mentioned strain, rde-1 ( ne219 ) and the reported germline only RNAi strain, rrf-1 ( pk1417 ) are not appropriate genetic backgrounds for tissue-specific RNAi experiments. However, the knockout mutant rde-1 ( ne300 ) was strongly resistant to dsRNA induced RNAi, and thus is more appropriate for construction of a robust tissue-specific RNAi strains. Using newly constructed strains in the rde-1 (null) background, we found considerable desaturase activity in intestinal, epidermal, and germline tissues, but not in muscle. The RNAi-specific strains reported in this study will be useful tools for C. elegans researchers studying a variety of biological processes.
Project description:In most eukaryotes, small RNA-mediated gene silencing pathways form complex interacting networks. In the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia, at least two RNA interference (RNAi) mechanisms coexist, involving distinct but overlapping sets of protein factors and producing different types of short interfering RNAs (siRNAs). One is specifically triggered by high-copy transgenes, and the other by feeding cells with double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-producing bacteria. In this study, we designed a forward genetic screen for mutants deficient in dsRNA-induced silencing, and a powerful method to identify the relevant mutations by whole-genome sequencing. We present a set of 47 mutant alleles for five genes, revealing two previously unknown RNAi factors: a novel Paramecium-specific protein (Pds1) and a Cid1-like nucleotidyl transferase. Analyses of allelic diversity distinguish non-essential and essential genes and suggest that the screen is saturated for non-essential, single-copy genes. We show that non-essential genes are specifically involved in dsRNA-induced RNAi while essential ones are also involved in transgene-induced RNAi. One of the latter, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase RDR2, is further shown to be required for all known types of siRNAs, as well as for sexual reproduction. These results open the way for the dissection of the genetic complexity, interconnection, mechanisms and natural functions of RNAi pathways in P. tetraurelia.