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Exp Parasitol. 2008 Jan;118(1):122-8. Epub 2007 Jul 19.

Schistosoma mansoni: the dicer gene and its expression.

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  • 1Molecular Helminthology Laboratory, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Grafton, MA 01536, USA.


RNA interference (RNAi) is a gene silencing mechanism that plays an important role in regulating gene expression in many eukaryotes and has become a valuable molecular tool for analyzing gene function. Multi-domain nucleases called Dicer proteins play pivotal roles in RNAi. In this paper, we characterize the structure and expression of the Dicer gene from the platyhelminth parasite Schistosoma mansoni. The gene (SmDicer) is over 54kb long and comprises 30 exons that potentially encode a 2641 amino acid protein. This is the largest Dicer protein yet described. SmDicer contains all domains that are characteristic of metazoan dicers including an amino terminal helicase domain, DUF283, a PAZ domain, two RNAse III domains and an RNA binding domain. An examination of the available S. mansoni genome sequence suggests that the Dicer gene described here is the only Dicer gene in the parasite genome. SmDicer is expressed throughout schistosome development suggesting that RNAi technologies might be employed in deciphering gene function in all life stages of this parasite.

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