Faculty of Social Sciences

Systemic RNAi Relies on the Endomembrane System in Caenorhabditis elegans

  • Date: 11/23/2017 at 1:00 PM
  • Location: B42, Uppsala Biomedical central, Husagatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Zhao, Yani
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Mikrobiologi
  • Contact person: Zhao, Yani
  • Disputation

The results presented in this thesis provide us with more evidence for the connection of the membrane transport system and RNAi.

The membrane system of a eukaryotic cell is a large and complex system handling the transport, exchange and degradation of many kinds of material. Recent research shows that double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) mediated gene silencing (RNA interference) is a membrane related process. After long dsRNA is processed to small interfering RNA (siRNA) by Dicer, the guide strand and passenger strand are separated in the RNA induced silencing complex (RISC) by Argonaute. The process of loading siRNA into RISC has been suggested to occur at the rough Endoplasmic Reticulum (rER).The components of RISC also associate with late endosomes/multivesicular bodies (MVBs). Furthermore, disturbing the balance between late endosomes/MVBs and lysosomes has been shown to affect the efficiency of silencing.

We use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as our model organism to study two questions: how does membrane transport affect RNAi and spreading of RNAi from the recipient cells to other tissues (systemic RNAi); and how does RNA transport contribute to the multigenerational silencing induced by dsRNA (RNAi inheritance)? Using SID-5, a protein required for efficient systemic RNAi, as bait in a yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) screen, we got 32 SID-5 interacting candidate proteins. Two of these are the SNARE protein SEC-22 and the putative RNA binding protein C12D8.1. In two additional Y2H screens, we found that SID-5 interacts with multiple syntaxin SNAREs, including SYX-6, whereas SEC-22 only interacts with SYX-6. SNAREs usually function in vesicle fusion processes. We found the two SNARE proteins SEC-22 and SYX-6 to be negative regulators of RNAi and to localize to late endosomes/MVBs. In addition, loss of sid-5 leads to an endosome maturation defect. Finally, we found that the putative RNA binding protein C12D8.1 negatively regulates RNAi inheritance and that C12D8.1 mutant animals show impaired RNAi upon targeting a new gene. Taken together, the results presented in this thesis provide us with more evidence for the connection of the membrane transport system and RNAi. The identification of a putative negative regulator of RNAi inheritance further enriches this research field.