Protection from Feed-Forward Amplification in an Amplified RNAi Mechanism.

Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
Cell (Impact Factor: 31.96). 11/2012; 151(4):885-99. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.10.022
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The effectiveness of RNA interference (RNAi) in many organisms is potentiated through the signal-amplifying activity of a targeted RNA-directed RNA polymerase (RdRP) system that can convert a small population of exogenously-encountered dsRNA fragments into an abundant internal pool of small interfering RNA (siRNA). As for any biological amplification system, we expect an underlying architecture that will limit the ability of a randomly encountered trigger to produce an uncontrolled and self-escalating response. Investigating such limits in Caenorhabditis elegans, we find that feed-forward amplification is limited by biosynthetic and structural distinctions at the RNA level between (1) triggers that can produce amplification and (2) siRNA products of the amplification reaction. By assuring that initial (primary) siRNAs can act as triggers but not templates for activation, and that the resulting (secondary) siRNAs can enforce gene silencing on additional targets without unbridled trigger amplification, the system achieves substantial but fundamentally limited signal amplification.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Effective silencing by RNA-interference (RNAi) depends on mechanisms that amplify and propagate the silencing signal. In some organisms, small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are amplified from target mRNAs by RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP). Both RdRP recruitment and mRNA silencing require Argonaute proteins, which are generally thought to degrade RNAi targets by directly cleaving them. However, in C. elegans, the enzymatic activity of the primary Argonaute, RDE-1, is not required for silencing activity. We show that RDE-1 can instead recruit an endoribonuclease, RDE-8, to target RNA. RDE-8 can cleave RNA in vitro and is needed for the production of 3' uridylated fragments of target mRNA in vivo. We also find that RDE-8 promotes RdRP activity, thereby ensuring amplification of siRNAs. Together, our findings suggest a model in which RDE-8 cleaves target mRNAs to mediate silencing, while generating 3' uridylated mRNA fragments to serve as templates for the RdRP-directed amplification of the silencing signal. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Cell. 01/2015; 160(3):407-419.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: RNA interference can induce heritable gene silencing, but it remains unexplored whether similar mechanisms play a general role in responses to cues that occur in the wild. We show that transient, mild heat stress in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans results in changes in messenger RNA levels that last for more than one generation. The affected transcripts are enriched for genes targeted by germline siRNAs downstream of the piRNA pathway, and worms defective for germline RNAi are defective for these heritable effects. Our results demonstrate that a specific siRNA pathway transmits information about variable environmental conditions between generations.
    Scientific Reports 12/2014; 4:7387. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Facilitated by recent advances using CRISPR/Cas9, genome editing technologies now permit custom genetic modifications in a wide variety of organisms. Ideally, modified animals could be both efficiently made and easily identified with minimal initial screening and without introducing exogenous sequence at the locus of interest or marker mutations elsewhere. To this end, we describe a co-conversion strategy using CRISPR/Cas9 in which screening for a dominant phenotypic oligonucleotide-templated conversion event at one locus can be used to enrich for custom modifications at another unlinked locus. After the desired mutation is identified among the F1 progeny heterozygous for the dominant marker mutation, F2 animals that have lost the marker mutation are picked to obtain the desired mutation in an unmarked genetic background. We have developed such a co-conversion strategy for Caenorhabditis elegans using a number of dominant phenotypic markers. Examining the co-conversion at a second (unselected) locus of interest in the marked F1 animals, we observed that 14-84% of screened animals showed homologous recombination. By reconstituting the unmarked background through segregation of the dominant marker mutation at each step, we show that custom modification events can be carried out recursively, enabling multiple mutant animals to be made. While our initial choice of a co-conversion marker (rol-6(su1006)) was readily applicable in a single round of co-conversion, the genetic properties of this locus were not optimal in that CRISPR-mediated deletion mutations at the unselected rol-6 locus can render a fraction of co-converted strains recalcitrant to further rounds of similar mutagenesis. An optimal marker in this sense would provide phenotypic distinctions between the desired mutant/+ class and alternative +/+, mutant/null, null/null, and null/+ genotypes. Reviewing dominant alleles from classical C. elegans genetics, we identified one mutation each in dpy-10 and sqt-1 that meet these criteria and demonstrate that these too can be used as effective conversion markers. Co-conversion was observed using a variety of donor molecules at the second (unselected) locus, including oligonucleotides, PCR products, and plasmids. We note that the co-conversion approach described here could be applied in any of the variety of systems where suitable co-conversion markers can be identified from previous intensive genetic analyses of gain-of-function alleles.
    Genetics 08/2014; · 4.87 Impact Factor


Available from