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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Feb 22;108(8):3204-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1009781108. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Blanks, a nuclear siRNA/dsRNA-binding complex component, is required for Drosophila spermiogenesis.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences, Northwestern University, 2205 Tech Drive, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


Small RNAs and a diverse array of protein partners control gene expression in eukaryotes through a variety of mechanisms. By combining siRNA affinity chromatography and mass spectrometry, we have identified the double-stranded RNA-binding domain protein Blanks to be an siRNA- and dsRNA-binding protein from Drosophila S2 cells. We find that Blanks is a nuclear factor that contributes to the efficiency of RNAi. Biochemical fractionation of a Blanks-containing complex shows that the Blanks complex is unlike previously described RNA-induced silencing complexes and associates with the DEAD-box helicase RM62, a protein previously implicated in RNA silencing. In flies, Blanks is highly expressed in testes tissues and is necessary for postmeiotic spermiogenesis, but loss of Blanks is not accompanied by detectable transposon derepression. Instead, genes related to innate immunity pathways are up-regulated in blanks mutant testes. These results reveal Blanks to be a unique component of a nuclear siRNA/dsRNA-binding complex that contributes to essential RNA silencing-related pathways in the male germ line.

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