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Systemic RNAi in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


RNA interference (RNAi) in Caenorhabditis elegans induced by ingestion or injection of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) spreads throughout the organism and is even transmitted to the progeny. We have identified two proteins required for spreading of RNAi, SID-1 and SID-2, whose structure, subcellular localization, and expression pattern have been informative for how dsRNA can be transported into and between cells. SID-1 is a transmembrane protein that functions as a pore or channel that transports dsRNA into and out of cells. Proteins homologous to SID-1 are present in a wide range of invertebrate and vertebrate animals but are absent from plants. SID-2 is a small transmembrane protein that is expressed in the gut and localizes strongly to the luminal membrane where it appears to act as a receptor for uptake of dsRNA from the environment. Characterization of SID-2 activity in a variety of Caenorhabditis nematodes indicates that C. elegans SID-2 may have a novel activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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