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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Feb 23;107(8):3588-93. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0911685107. Epub 2010 Feb 4.

Argonautes ALG-3 and ALG-4 are required for spermatogenesis-specific 26G-RNAs and thermotolerant sperm in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01606, USA.


Gametogenesis is a thermosensitive process in numerous metazoans, ranging from worms to man. In Caenorhabditis elegans, a variety of RNA-binding proteins that associate with germ-line nuage (P granules), including the Piwi-clade argonaute PRG-1, have been implicated in maintaining fertility at elevated temperature. Here we describe the role of two AGO-class paralogs, alg-3 (T22B3.2) and alg-4 (ZK757.3), in promoting thermotolerant male fertility. A rescuing GFP::alg-3 transgene is localized to P granules beginning at the late pachytene stage of male gametogenesis. alg-3/4 double mutants lack a subgroup of small RNAs, the 26G-RNAs which target and appear to down-regulate numerous spermatogenesis-expressed mRNAs. These findings add to a growing number of AGO pathways required for thermotolerant fertility in C. elegans and support a model in which AGOs and their small RNA cofactors function to promote robustness in gene-expression networks.

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