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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 23;100(26):15607-12. Epub 2003 Dec 10.

Use of Sindbis virus-mediated RNA interference to demonstrate a conserved role of Broad-Complex in insect metamorphosis.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of South Bohemia and Institute of Entomology, the Czech Academy of Sciences, Ceske Budejovice, 37005 Czech Republic.


The transcription factor Broad-Complex (BR-C) is required for differentiation of adult structures as well as for the programmed death of obsolete larval organs during metamorphosis of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Whether BR-C has a similar role in other holometabolous insects could not be proven without a loss-of-function genetic test, performed in a non-drosophilid species. Here we use a recombinant Sindbis virus as a tool to silence BR-C expression in the silkmoth Bombyx mori. The virus expressing a BR-C antisense RNA fragment reduced endogenous BR-C mRNA levels in infected tissues (adult wing and leg primordia) via RNA interference (RNAi). The RNAi knock-down of BR-C resulted in the failure of animals to complete the larval-pupal transition or in later morphogenetic defects, including differentiation of adult compound eyes, legs, and wings from their larval progenitors. BR-C RNAi also perturbed the programmed cell death of larval silk glands. These developmental defects correspond to loss-of-function phenotypes of BR-C Drosophila mutants in both the morphogenetic and degenerative aspects, suggesting that the critical role of BR-C in metamorphosis is evolutionarily conserved. We also demonstrate that the Sindbis virus is a useful vehicle for silencing of developmental genes in new insect models.

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