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Elife. 2014 Feb 11;3:e01581. doi: 10.7554/eLife.01581.

Endogenous RNA interference is driven by copy number.

Author information

1
Epigenetics Programme, The Babraham Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Abstract

A plethora of non-protein coding RNAs are produced throughout eukaryotic genomes, many of which are transcribed antisense to protein-coding genes and could potentially instigate RNA interference (RNAi) responses. Here we have used a synthetic RNAi system to show that gene copy number is a key factor controlling RNAi for transcripts from endogenous loci, since transcripts from multi-copy loci form double stranded RNA more efficiently than transcripts from equivalently expressed single-copy loci. Selectivity towards transcripts from high-copy DNA is therefore an emergent property of a minimal RNAi system. The ability of RNAi to selectively degrade transcripts from high-copy loci would allow suppression of newly emerging transposable elements, but such a surveillance system requires transcription. We show that low-level genome-wide pervasive transcription is sufficient to instigate RNAi, and propose that pervasive transcription is part of a defense mechanism capable of directing a sequence-independent RNAi response against transposable elements amplifying within the genome. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01581.001.

KEYWORDS:

RNA interference; copy number; non-coding RNA; pervasive transcription

PMID:
24520161
PMCID:
PMC3918874
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.01581
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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