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Dev Growth Differ. 2008 Aug;50(6):521-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2008.01039.x. Epub 2008 May 29.

RNA interference by expressing short hairpin RNA in the Ciona intestinalis embryo.

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1
Department of Materials Science, Kochi University, Kochi-shi, Kochi, Japan.

Abstract

We carried out RNA interference by expressing short hairpin RNA (shRNA) in the Ciona intestinalis embryo. For this purpose, we identified a gene encoding U6 small nuclear RNA (snRNA) in the C. intestinalis genome. The 1-kb sequence upstream of the U6 snRNA gene was sufficient for directing transcription of short RNA as revealed by Northern blot hybridization. An shRNA-expressing plasmid vector was constructed, in which shRNA-encoding oligonucleotides are inserted downstream of the U6 promoter. An shRNA that contained a sequence homologous to the C. intestinalis tyrosinase gene (Ci-tyrosinase) suppressed melanization of pigment cells in the brain of morphologically normal tailbud embryos. An shRNA that perfectly matched the translated sequence of enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) (a mutant type of Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein) suppressed the expression of the coelectroporated EGFP transgene. These results suggest that the expression of shRNA interferes with functions of both endogenous and exogenous genes. The shRNA-expressing plasmid constructed in the present study provides an easy and inexpensive alternative for the functional analysis of genes in ascidian embryos.

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