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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2007 Oct;275(1):38-45. Epub 2007 Aug 6.

RNA silencing in the dermatophyte Microsporum canis.

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Department of Infectious & Parasitic Diseases, Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.


Dermatomycoses caused by Microsporum canis are frequent in domestic animals and easily transmissible to humans. Several proteases secreted by this fungus were identified as potential virulence factors, but the construction of deficient strains is required to investigate their role in the pathogenesis of the disease. Using target genes encoding two of these proteases, a first evaluation of the utility of RNA-mediated silencing as a reverse genetic tool in dermatophytes was carried out. SUB3 and DPPIV, respectively coding for a subtilisin and a dipeptidyl peptidase, were both down-regulated, by means of two plasmid constructs designed to express an RNA hairpin that corresponds to part of their respective sequence. The degree of attenuation was evaluated by enzymatic assay of the transformants culture supernatants, and by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Enzymatic activities and expression levels varied from less than 5% to 100% of that of control transformants obtained with plasmid without hairpin inserts. Inhibition was globally more efficient for SUB3 than for DPPIV. These results show that RNA silencing can be used for functional genomics in M. canis, and particularly to circumvent the limits and technical difficulties of conventional disruption methods.

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