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Dev Biol. 2004 May 1;269(1):276-85.

RNAi and expression of retrotransposons MuERV-L and IAP in preimplantation mouse embryos.

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Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6018, USA.


Both murine endogenous retrovirus-L (MuERV-L) and intracisternal A particle (IAP), two autonomous long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons, are activated during genome activation in the preimplantation mouse embryo, and both sense and antisense transcripts are detected in 2-cell and 8-cell stage embryos. Because RNA interference (RNAi) functions in the preimplantation mouse embryo, we analyzed the relationship between RNAi and MuERV-L and IAP expression by inhibiting RNAi and measuring relative changes of the levels of these transcripts. We inhibited the initial step in the RNAi pathway by injecting 1-cell embryos with mDicer siRNA or long mDicer dsRNA and analyzed MuERV-L and IAP expression at the 8-cell stage. This approach resulted in the targeted destruction of mDicer mRNA, but not Hdac1 mRNA, inhibited the RNAi pathway, and resulted in a 50% increase in IAP and MuERV-L transcript abundance. These results suggest that RNAi constrains expression of repetitive parasitic sequences in preimplantation embryos, and thereby contributes to preserving genomic integrity at a stage of development when the organism consists of only a few cells.

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