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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Jul 5;436(3):497-502. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.05.133. Epub 2013 Jun 11.

Loading and pre-loading processes generate a distinct siRNA population in Tetrahymena.

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Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Bohr-Gasse 3, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.


The various properties of small RNAs, such as length, terminal nucleotide, thermodynamic asymmetry and duplex mismatches, can impact their sorting into different Argonaute proteins in diverse eukaryotes. The developmentally regulated 26- to 32-nt siRNAs (scnRNAs) are loaded to the Argonaute protein Twi1p and display a strong bias for uracil at the 5' end. In this study, we used deep sequencing to analyze loaded and unloaded populations of scnRNAs. We show that the size of the scnRNA is determined during a pre-loading process, whereas their 5' uracil bias is attributed to both pre-loading and loading processes. We also demonstrate that scnRNAs have a strong bias for adenine at the third base from the 3' terminus, suggesting that most scnRNAs are direct Dicer products. Furthermore, we show that the thermodynamic asymmetry of the scnRNA duplex does not affect the guide and passenger strand decision. Finally, we show that scnRNAs frequently have templated uracil at the last base without a strong bias for adenine at the second base indicating non-sequential production of scnRNAs from substrates. These findings provide a biochemical basis for the varying attributes of scnRNAs, which should help improve our understanding of the production and turnover of scnRNAs in vivo.


Argonaute; Dicer; Tetrahymena; siRNA

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