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Mol Biol Cell. 2003 Jul;14(7):2972-83.

Inducible systemic RNA silencing in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biosciences, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045, USA.


Introduction of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) can elicit a gene-specific RNA interference response in a variety of organisms and cell types. In many cases, this response has a systemic character in that silencing of gene expression is observed in cells distal from the site of dsRNA delivery. The molecular mechanisms underlying the mobile nature of RNA silencing are unknown. For example, although cellular entry of dsRNA is possible, cellular exit of dsRNA from normal animal cells has not been directly observed. We provide evidence that transgenic strains of Caenorhabditis elegans transcribing dsRNA from a tissue-specific promoter do not exhibit comprehensive systemic RNA interference phenotypes. In these same animals, modifications of environmental conditions can result in more robust systemic RNA silencing. Additionally, we find that genetic mutations can influence the systemic character of RNA silencing in C. elegans and can separate mechanisms underlying systemic RNA silencing into tissue-specific components. These data suggest that trafficking of RNA silencing signals in C. elegans is regulated by specific physiological and genetic factors.

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