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Genes Cells. 2007 Sep;12(9):997-1010.

Dicer-related drh-3 gene functions in germ-line development by maintenance of chromosomal integrity in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Division of Life Science and Biotechnology, Department of Ecological Engineering, Toyohashi University of Technology, Toyohashi, Aichi 441-8580, Japan.


In the course of systematic RNA interference (RNAi)-based screens with helicase-like genes in Caenorhabditis elegans, we have identified the drh-3(D2005.5) gene as a candidate gene for protection against X-ray irradiation. This gene encodes a novel RNA helicase-like protein that is similar to two nematode Dicer-related helicases (DRH). Here, we have showed the increased expression of drh-3 transcripts during maturation of larvae to adults, and characterized the phenotype of drh-3-interferred nematodes using feeding RNAi method. RNAi-mediated depletion of the drh-3 transcripts caused embryonic lethality of F1 progeny and temperature-sensitive reproductive capacity but did not affect the nematode life span. F1 progeny from drh-3(RNAi) animals exhibited increased lethality after X-ray irradiation or exposure to camptothecin. In drh-3(RNAi) worms, aggregated chromosomes were observed in diakinesis oocyte nuclei. In developing early zygotic embryos from drh-3(RNAi) worms, abnormally segregated chromosomes were observed and embryonic development was largely arrested at the mid-stages of embryogenesis. Finally, examination of checkpoint responses in mitotic germ cells with regards to replication arrest by hydroxyurea and X-ray-induced DNA damage suggested that both checkpoints function normally under these genotoxic stress conditions. Taken together, these results indicate that the drh-3 gene is essential for the development of germ-lines by maintaining chromosomal integrity in C. elegans.

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