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EMBO J. 2007 Dec 12;26(24):5007-19. Epub 2007 Nov 15.

In vitro analyses of the production and activity of secondary small interfering RNAs in C. elegans.

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Graduate School of Medicine, HMRO, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


In the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) play important roles as intermediates. Primary siRNAs are produced from trigger dsRNAs by an RNaseIII-related enzyme called Dicer; in some organisms, secondary siRNAs are also produced by processes involving RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRPs), which act on target mRNAs. Using a cell-free assay system prepared from Caenorhabditis elegans, we analyzed the production and activity of secondary siRNAs. In this cell-free system, RdRP activity acts on mRNA-derived templates to produce small RNAs. The RRF-1 complex is predominantly responsible for the RdRP activity, and synthesizes secondary-type siRNA molecules in a Dicer-independent manner. Notably, secondary-type siRNAs induce a prominent Slicer activity to cleave target mRNAs far more effectively than primary-type siRNAs. An Argonaute protein, CSR-1, is responsible for the Slicer activity induced by secondary-type siRNAs. Secondary rather than primary siRNAs may play a major role in the destabilization of target transcripts during RNAi in C. elegans.

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