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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2007 Dec;156(2):144-53. Epub 2007 Aug 1.

The Argonaute protein TbAGO1 contributes to large and mini-chromosome segregation and is required for control of RIME retroposons and RHS pseudogene-associated transcripts.

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1
Régulation et Dynamique des Génomes, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, INSERM & CNRS, 75005 Paris, France.

Abstract

The protist Trypanosoma brucei possesses a single Argonaute gene called TbAGO1 that is necessary for RNAi silencing. We previously showed that in strain 427, TbAGO1 knock-out leads to a slow growth phenotype and to chromosome segregation defects. Here we report that the slow growth phenotype is linked to defects in segregation of both large and mini-chromosome populations, with large chromosomes being the most affected. These phenotypes are completely reversed upon inducible re-expression of TbAGO1 fused to GFP, demonstrating their link with TbAGO1. Trypanosomes that do not express TbAGO1 show a general increase in the abundance of transcripts derived from the short retroposon RIME (Ribosomal Interspersed Mobile Element). Supplementary large RIME transcripts emerge in the absence of RNAi, a phenomenon coupled to the disappearance of short transcripts. These fluctuations are reversed by inducible expression of GFP::TbAGO1. Furthermore, we use a combination of Northern blots, RT-PCR and sequencing to reveal that RNAi controls expression of transcripts derived from RHS (Retrotransposon Hot Spot) pseudogenes (RHS genes with retro-element(s) integrated within their coding sequence). Absence of RNAi also leads to an increase of steady-state transcripts from regular RHS genes (those without retro-element), indicating a role for pseudogene in control of gene expression. However, analysis of retroposon abundance and arrangement in the genome of multiple clonal cell lines of TbAGO1-/- failed to reveal movement of mobile elements despite the increased amounts of retroposon transcripts.

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