Authors: Kumsta C; Hansen M
Abstract: Gene inactivation through RNA interference (RNAi) has proven to be a valuable tool for studying gene function in C. elegans. When combined with tissue-specific gene inactivation methods, RNAi has the potential to shed light on the function of a gene in distinct tissues. In this study we characterized C. elegans rrf-1 mutants to determine their ability to process RNAi in various tissues. These mutants have been widely used in RNAi studies to assess the function of genes specifically in the C. elegans germline. Upon closer analysis, we found that two rrf-1 mutants carrying different loss-of-function alleles were capable of processing RNAi targeting several somatically expressed genes. Specifically, we observed that the intestine was able to process RNAi triggers efficiently, whereas cells in the hypodermis showed partial susceptibility to RNAi in rrf-1 mutants. Other somatic tissues in rrf-1 mutants, such as the muscles and the somatic gonad, appeared resistant to RNAi. In addition to these observations, we found that the rrf-1(pk1417) mutation induced the expression of several transgenic arrays, including the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16. Unexpectedly, rrf-1(pk1417) mutants showed increased endogenous expression of the DAF-16 target gene sod-3; however, the lifespan and thermo-tolerance of rrf-1(pk1417) mutants were similar to those of wild-type animals. In sum, these data show that rrf-1 mutants display several phenotypes not previously appreciated, including broader tissue-specific RNAi-processing capabilities, and our results underscore the need for careful characterization of tissue-specific RNAi tools.
Journal: PloS one
Date: May 11, 2012
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Kumsta C, Hansen M (2012) C. elegans rrf-1 mutations maintain RNAi efficiency in the soma in addition to the germline. PloS one 7: e35428.