A conserved siRNA-degrading RNase negatively regulates RNA interference in C. elegans.
ABSTRACT In many organisms, introducing double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) causes the degradation of messenger RNA that is homologous to the trigger dsRNA--a process known as RNA interference. The dsRNA is cleaved into short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which hybridize to homologous mRNAs and induce their degradation. dsRNAs vary in their ability to trigger RNA interference: many mRNA-targeting dsRNAs show weak phenotypes, and nearly all mRNAs of the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system are refractory to RNA interference. C. elegans eri-1 was identified in a genetic screen for mutants with enhanced sensitivity to dsRNAs. Here we show that eri-1 encodes an evolutionarily conserved protein with domains homologous to nucleic-acid-binding and exonuclease proteins. After exposure to dsRNA or siRNAs, animals with eri-1 mutations accumulate more siRNAs than do wild-type animals. C. elegans ERI-1 and its human orthologue degrade siRNAs in vitro. In the nematode worm, ERI-1 is predominantly cytoplasmic and is expressed most highly in the gonad and a subset of neurons, suggesting that ERI-1 siRNase activity suppresses RNA interference more intensely in these tissues. Thus, ERI-1 is a negative regulator that may normally function to limit the duration, cell-type specificity or endogenous functions of RNA interference.
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ABSTRACT: Short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are double-stranded RNAs of ≈21–25 nucleotides that have been shown to function as key intermediaries in triggering sequence-specific RNA degradation during posttranscriptional gene silencing in plants and RNA interference in invertebrates. siRNAs have a characteristic structure, with 5′-phosphate/3′-hydroxyl ends and a 2-base 3′ overhang on each strand of the duplex. In this study, we present data that synthetic siRNAs can induce gene-specific inhibition of expression in Caenorhabditis elegans and in cell lines from humans and mice. In each case, the interference by siRNAs was superior to the inhibition of gene expression mediated by single-stranded antisense oligonucleotides. The siRNAs seem to avoid the well documented nonspecific effects triggered by longer double-stranded RNAs in mammalian cells. These observations may open a path toward the use of siRNAs as a reverse genetic and therapeutic tool in mammalian cells.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2001; · 9.74 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) is a broadly used reverse genetics method in C. elegans. Unfortunately, RNAi does not inhibit all genes. We show that loss of function of a putative RNA-directed RNA polymerase (RdRP) of C. elegans, RRF-3, results in a substantial enhancement of sensitivity to RNAi in diverse tissues. This is particularly striking in the nervous system; neurons that are generally refractory to RNAi in a wild-type genetic background can respond effectively to interference in an rrf-3 mutant background. These data provide the first indication of physiological negative modulation of the RNAi response and implicate an RdRP-related factor in this effect. The rrf-3 strain can be useful to study genes that, in wild-type, do not show a phenotype after RNAi, and it is probably the strain of choice for genome-wide RNAi screens.Current Biology 09/2002; 12(15):1317-9. · 9.49 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Double-stranded (ds) RNA can induce sequence-specific inhibition of gene function in several organisms. However, both the mechanism and the physiological role of the interference process remain mysterious. In order to study the interference process, we have selected C. elegans mutants resistant to dsRNA-mediated interference (RNAi). Two loci, rde-1 and rde-4, are defined by mutants strongly resistant to RNAi but with no obvious defects in growth or development. We show that rde-1 is a member of the piwi/sting/argonaute/zwille/eIF2C gene family conserved from plants to vertebrates. Interestingly, several, but not all, RNAi-deficient strains exhibit mobilization of the endogenous transposons. We discuss implications for the mechanism of RNAi and the possibility that one natural function of RNAi is transposon silencing.Cell 11/1999; 99(2):123-32. · 31.96 Impact Factor