Genome-scale RNA-interference (RNAi) screens are becoming ever more common gene discovery tools. However, whilst every screen identifies interacting genes, less attention has been given to how factors such as library design and post-screening bioinformatics may be effecting the data generated.
Here we present a new genome-wide RNAi screen of the Drosophila JAK/STAT signalling pathway undertaken in the Sheffield RNAi Screening Facility (SRSF). This screen was carried out using a second-generation, computationally optimised dsRNA library and analysed using current methods and bioinformatic tools. To examine advances in RNAi screening technology, we compare this screen to a biologically very similar screen undertaken in 2005 with a first-generation library. Both screens used the same cell line, reporters and experimental design, with the SRSF screen identifying 42 putative regulators of JAK/STAT signalling, 22 of which verified in a secondary screen and 16 verified with an independent probe design. Following reanalysis of the original screen data, comparisons of the two gene lists allows us to make estimates of false discovery rates in the SRSF data and to conduct an assessment of off-target effects (OTEs) associated with both libraries. We discuss the differences and similarities between the resulting data sets and examine the relative improvements in gene discovery protocols.
Our work represents one of the first direct comparisons between first- and second-generation libraries and shows that modern library designs together with methodological advances have had a significant influence on genome-scale RNAi screens.
Genome screening; RNAi; Off-target effect; JAK/STAT pathway; Functional genomics; dsRNA
Targeted gene silencing by RNA interference allows the study of gene function in plants and animals. In cell culture and small animal models, genetic screens can be performed—even tissue-specifically in Drosophila—with genome-wide RNAi libraries. However, a major problem with the use of RNAi approaches is the unavoidable false-positive error caused by off-target effects. Until now, this is minimized by computational RNAi design, comparing RNAi to the mutant phenotype if known, and rescue with a presumed ortholog. The ultimate proof of specificity would be to restore expression of the same gene product in vivo. Here, we present a simple and efficient method to rescue the RNAi-mediated knockdown of two independent genes in Drosophila. By exploiting the degenerate genetic code, we generated Drosophila
RNAi Escape Strategy Construct (RESC) rescue proteins containing frequent silent mismatches in the complete RNAi target sequence. RESC products were no longer efficiently silenced by RNAi in cell culture and in vivo. As a proof of principle, we rescue the RNAi-induced loss of function phenotype of the eye color gene white and tracheal defects caused by the knockdown of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan. Our data suggest that RESC is widely applicable to rescue and validate ubiquitous or tissue-specific RNAi and to perform protein structure–function analysis.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a technique widely used for gene silencing in organisms and cultured cells, and depends on sequence homology between double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and target mRNA molecules. Numerous cell-based genome-wide screens have successfully identified novel genes involved in various biological processes, including signal transduction, cell viability/death, and cell morphology. However, cell-based screens cannot address cellular processes such as development, behavior, and immunity. Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans are two model organisms whose whole bodies and individual body parts have been subjected to RNAi-based genome-wide screening. Moreover, Drosophila RNAi allows the manipulation of gene function in a spatiotemporal manner when it is implemented using the Gal4/UAS system. Using this inducible RNAi technique, various large-scale screens have been performed in Drosophila, demonstrating that the method is straightforward and valuable. However, accumulated results reveal that the results of RNAi-based screens have relatively high levels of error, such as false positives and negatives. Here, we review in vivo RNAi screens in Drosophila and the methods that could be used to remove ambiguity from screening results.
Drosophila; genome-wide screen; RNAi library; false results; interaction network
RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as a powerful tool to generate loss-of-function phenotypes in a variety of organisms. Combined with the sequence information of almost completely annotated genomes, RNAi technologies have opened new avenues to conduct systematic genetic screens for every annotated gene in the genome. As increasing large datasets of RNAi-induced phenotypes become available, an important challenge remains the systematic integration and annotation of functional information. Genome-wide RNAi screens have been performed both in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila for a variety of phenotypes and several RNAi libraries have become available to assess phenotypes for almost every gene in the genome. These screens were performed using different types of assays from visible phenotypes to focused transcriptional readouts and provide a rich data source for functional annotation across different species. The GenomeRNAi database provides access to published RNAi phenotypes obtained from cell-based screens and maps them to their genomic locus, including possible non-specific regions. The database also gives access to sequence information of RNAi probes used in various screens. It can be searched by phenotype, by gene, by RNAi probe or by sequence and is accessible at
A key event in Wnt signaling is conversion of TCF/Lef from a transcriptional repressor to an activator, yet how this switch occurs is not well understood. Here, we report an unanticipated role for X-linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis (XIAP) in regulating this critical Wnt signaling event that is independent of its anti-apoptotic function. We identified DIAP1 as a positive regulator of Wingless signaling in a Drosophila S2 cell-based RNAi screen. XIAP, its vertebrate homolog, is similarly required for Wnt signaling in cultured mammalian cells and in Xenopus embryos, indicating evolutionary conservation of function. Upon Wnt pathway activation, XIAP is recruited to TCF/Lef where it mono-ubiquitylates Groucho(Gro)/TLE. This modification decreases affinity of Gro/TLE for TCF/Lef. Our data reveal a transcriptional switch involving XIAP-mediated ubiquitylation of Gro/TLE that facilitates its removal from TCF/Lef, thus allowing β-catenin-TCF/Lef complex assembly and initiation of a Wnt-specific transcriptional program.
High-throughput screening using RNAi is a powerful gene discovery method but is often complicated by false positive and false negative results. Whereas false positive results associated with RNAi reagents has been a matter of extensive study, the issue of false negatives has received less attention.
We performed a meta-analysis of several genome-wide, cell-based Drosophila RNAi screens, together with a more focused RNAi screen, and conclude that the rate of false negative results is at least 8%. Further, we demonstrate how knowledge of the cell transcriptome can be used to resolve ambiguous results and how the number of false negative results can be reduced by using multiple, independently-tested RNAi reagents per gene.
RNAi reagents that target the same gene do not always yield consistent results due to false positives and weak or ineffective reagents. False positive results can be partially minimized by filtering with transcriptome data. RNAi libraries with multiple reagents per gene also reduce false positive and false negative outcomes when inconsistent results are disambiguated carefully.
Insights into how the Frizzled/LRP6 receptor complex receives, transduces and terminates Wnt signals will enhance our understanding of the control of the Wnt/ß-catenin pathway.
In pursuit of such insights, we performed a genome-wide RNAi screen in Drosophila cells expressing an activated form of LRP6 and a β-catenin-responsive reporter. This screen resulted in the identification of Bili, a Band4.1-domain containing protein, as a negative regulator of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. We found that the expression of Bili in Drosophila embryos and larval imaginal discs significantly overlaps with the expression of Wingless (Wg), the Drosophila Wnt ortholog, which is consistent with a potential function for Bili in the Wg pathway. We then tested the functions of Bili in both invertebrate and vertebrate animal model systems. Loss-of-function studies in Drosophila and zebrafish embryos, as well as human cultured cells, demonstrate that Bili is an evolutionarily conserved antagonist of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Mechanistically, we found that Bili exerts its antagonistic effects by inhibiting the recruitment of AXIN to LRP6 required during pathway activation.
These studies identify Bili as an evolutionarily conserved negative regulator of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.
Gene silencing using RNA interference (RNAi) has become a prominent biological tool for gene annotation, pathway analysis, and target discovery in mammalian cells. High-throughput screens conducted using whole-genome siRNA libraries have uncovered rich sets of new genes involved in a variety of biological processes and cellular models of disease. However, high-throughput RNAi screening is not yet a mainstream tool in life science research because current screening platforms are expensive and onerous. Miniaturizing the RNAi screening platform to reduce cost and increase throughput will enable its widespread use and harness its potential for rapid genome annotation. With this aim, we have combined semi-conductor microfabrication and nanolitre dispensing techniques to develop miniaturized electroporation-ready microwell arrays loaded with siRNA molecules in which multiplexed gene knockdown can be achieved. Arrays of microwells are created using high-aspect ratio biocompatible photoresists on optically transparent and conductive Indium-Tin Oxide (ITO) substrates with integrated micro-electrodes to enable in situ electroporation. Non-contact inkjet microarraying allows precise dispensing of nanolitre volumes into the microwell structures. We have achieved parallel electroporation of multiple mammalian cells cultured in these microwell arrays and observed efficient knockdown of genes with surface-bound, printed siRNAs. Further integration of microfabrication and non-contact nanolitre dispensing techniques described here may enable single-substrate whole-genome siRNA screening in mammalian cells.
RNA interference (RNAi) becomes an increasingly important and effective genetic tool to study the function of target genes by suppressing specific genes of interest. This system approach helps identify signaling pathways and cellular phase types by tracking intensity and/or morphological changes of cells. The traditional RNAi screening scheme, in which one siRNA is designed to knockdown one specific mRNA target, needs a large library of siRNAs and turns out to be time-consuming and expensive.
In this paper, we propose a conceptual model, called compressed sensing RNAi (csRNAi), which employs a unique combination of group of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to knockdown a much larger size of genes. This strategy is based on the fact that one gene can be partially bound with several small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and conversely, one siRNA can bind to a few genes with distinct binding affinity. This model constructs a multi-to-multi correspondence between siRNAs and their targets, with siRNAs much fewer than mRNA targets, compared with the conventional scheme. Mathematically this problem involves an underdetermined system of equations (linear or nonlinear), which is ill-posed in general. However, the recently developed compressed sensing (CS) theory can solve this problem. We present a mathematical model to describe the csRNAi system based on both CS theory and biological concerns. To build this model, we first search nucleotide motifs in a target gene set. Then we propose a machine learning based method to find the effective siRNAs with novel features, such as image features and speech features to describe an siRNA sequence. Numerical simulations show that we can reduce the siRNA library to one third of that in the conventional scheme. In addition, the features to describe siRNAs outperform the existing ones substantially.
This csRNAi system is very promising in saving both time and cost for large-scale RNAi screening experiments which may benefit the biological research with respect to cellular processes and pathways.
The diversity of metazoan cell shapes is influenced by the dynamic cytoskeletal network. With the advent of RNA-interference (RNAi) technology, it is now possible to screen systematically for genes controlling specific cell-biological processes, including those required to generate distinct morphologies.
We adapted existing RNAi technology in Drosophila cell culture for use in high-throughput screens to enable a comprehensive genetic dissection of cell morphogenesis. To identify genes responsible for the characteristic shape of two morphologically distinct cell lines, we performed RNAi screens in each line with a set of double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) targeting 994 predicted cell shape regulators. Using automated fluorescence microscopy to visualize actin filaments, microtubules and DNA, we detected morphological phenotypes for 160 genes, one-third of which have not been previously characterized in vivo. Genes with similar phenotypes corresponded to known components of pathways controlling cytoskeletal organization and cell shape, leading us to propose similar functions for previously uncharacterized genes. Furthermore, we were able to uncover genes acting within a specific pathway using a co-RNAi screen to identify dsRNA suppressors of a cell shape change induced by Pten dsRNA.
Using RNAi, we identified genes that influence cytoskeletal organization and morphology in two distinct cell types. Some genes exhibited similar RNAi phenotypes in both cell types, while others appeared to have cell-type-specific functions, in part reflecting the different mechanisms used to generate a round or a flat cell morphology.
A number of groups have developed libraries of siRNAs to identify genes through functional genomics. While these studies have validated the approach of making functional RNAi libraries to understand fundamental cellular mechanisms, they require information and knowledge of existing sequences since the RNAi sequences are generated synthetically. An alternative strategy would be to create an RNAi library from cDNA. Unfortunately, the complexity of such a library of siRNAs would make screening difficult. To reduce the complexity, longer dsRNAs could be used; however, concerns of induction of the interferon response and off-target effects of long dsRNAs have prevented their use. As a first step in creating such libraries, long dsRNA was expressed in mammalian cells. The 250 nt dsRNAs were capable of efficiently silencing a luciferase reporter gene that was stably transfected in MDA-MB-231 cells without inducing the interferon response or off-target effects any more than reported for siRNAs. In addition, a long dsRNA expressed in the same cell line was capable of silencing endogenous c-met expression and inhibited cell migration, whereas the dsRNA against luciferase had no effect on c-met or cell migration. The studies suggest that large dsRNA libraries are feasible and that functional selection of genes will be possible.
The GenomeRNAi database (http://www.genomernai.org/) contains phenotypes from published cell-based RNA interference (RNAi) screens in Drosophila and Homo sapiens. The database connects observed phenotypes with annotations of targeted genes and information about the RNAi reagent used for the perturbation experiment. The availability of phenotypes from Drosophila and human screens also allows for phenotype searches across species. Besides reporting quantitative data from genome-scale screens, the new release of GenomeRNAi also enables reporting of data from microscopy experiments and curated phenotypes from published screens. In addition, the database provides an updated resource of RNAi reagents and their predicted quality that are available for the Drosophila and the human genome. The new version also facilitates the integration with other genomic data sets and contains expression profiling (RNA-Seq) data for several cell lines commonly used in RNAi experiments.
In many eukaryotic cells, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) triggers RNA interference (RNAi), the specific degradation of RNA of homologous sequence. RNAi is now a major tool for reverse-genetics projects, including large-scale high-throughput screens. Recent reports have questioned the specificity of RNAi, raising problems in interpretation of RNAi-based experiments.
Using the protozoan Trypanosoma brucei as a model, we designed a functional complementation assay to ascertain that phenotypic effect(s) observed upon RNAi were due to specific silencing of the targeted gene. This was applied to a cytoskeletal gene encoding the paraflagellar rod protein 2 (TbPFR2), whose product is essential for flagellar motility. We demonstrate the complementation of TbPFR2, silenced via dsRNA targeting its UTRs, through the expression of a tagged RNAi-resistant TbPFR2 encoding a protein that could be immunolocalized in the flagellum. Next, we performed a functional complementation of TbPFR2, silenced via dsRNA targeting its coding sequence, through heterologous expression of the TbPFR2 orthologue gene from Trypanosoma cruzi: the flagellum regained its motility.
This work shows that functional complementation experiments can be readily performed in order to ascertain that phenotypic effects observed upon RNAi experiments are indeed due to the specific silencing of the targetted gene. Further, the results described here are of particular interest when reverse genetics studies cannot be easily achieved in organisms not amenable to RNAi. In addition, our strategy should constitute a firm basis to elaborate functional-dissection studies of genes from other organisms.
The recently developed RNA interference (RNAi) technology has created an unprecedented opportunity which allows the function of individual genes in whole organisms or cell lines to be interrogated at genome-wide scale. However, multiple issues, such as off-target effects or low efficacies in knocking down certain genes, have produced RNAi screening results that are often noisy and that potentially yield both high rates of false positives and false negatives. Therefore, integrating RNAi screening results with other information, such as protein-protein interaction (PPI), may help to address these issues.
By analyzing 24 genome-wide RNAi screens interrogating various biological processes in Drosophila, we found that RNAi positive hits were significantly more connected to each other when analyzed within a protein-protein interaction network, as opposed to random cases, for nearly all screens. Based on this finding, we developed a network-based approach to identify false positives (FPs) and false negatives (FNs) in these screening results. This approach relied on a scoring function, which we termed NePhe, to integrate information obtained from both PPI network and RNAi screening results. Using a novel rank-based test, we compared the performance of different NePhe scoring functions and found that diffusion kernel-based methods generally outperformed others, such as direct neighbor-based methods. Using two genome-wide RNAi screens as examples, we validated our approach extensively from multiple aspects. We prioritized hits in the original screens that were more likely to be reproduced by the validation screen and recovered potential FNs whose involvements in the biological process were suggested by previous knowledge and mutant phenotypes. Finally, we demonstrated that the NePhe scoring system helped to biologically interpret RNAi results at the module level.
By comprehensively analyzing multiple genome-wide RNAi screens, we conclude that network information can be effectively integrated with RNAi results to produce suggestive FPs and FNs, and to bring biological insight to the screening results.
Both the core JAK-STAT pathway components and their in vivo roles have been widely conserved between vertebrates and invertebrate models such as Drosophila melanogaster. Misregulation of JAK-STAT pathway activity has also been identified as a key factor in the development of multiple human malignancies. Recently, whole genome RNA interference (RNAi) screens in cultured Drosophila cells have identified both positively and negatively acting JAK-STAT pathway regulators. Here, we describe the analysis of 73 human genes representing homologs of 56 Drosophila genes originally identified by genome-wide RNAi screening as regulators of JAK-STAT signaling. Using assays for human STAT1 and STAT3 protein levels and phosphorylation status, as well as assays measuring the expression of endogenous STAT1 and STAT3 transcriptional targets, we have tested siRNAs targeting these 73 human genes and have identified potential JAK-STAT pathway regulatory roles in 69 (95%) of these. The genes identified represent a wide range of human JAK-STAT pathway regulators and include genes not previously known to modulate this signaling cascade. These results underline the value of model system based approaches for the identification of pathway regulators and have led to the identification of loci whose misregulation may ultimately be implicated in JAK-STAT pathway-mediated human disease.
assay; Drosophila; GBP1; HeLa; phosphorylation; RNAi; screening; SOCS3
An automated, image-based RNAi screen for cell shape reveals roles for membrane secretion factors in cell spreading.
Recent technological advances in microscopy have enabled cell-based whole genome screens, but the analysis of the vast amount of image data generated by such screens usually proves to be rate limiting. In this study, we performed a whole genome RNA interference (RNAi) screen to uncover genes that affect spreading of Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells using several computational methods for analyzing the image data in an automated manner. Expected genes in the Scar-Arp2/3 actin nucleation pathway were identified as well as casein kinase I, which had a similar morphological RNAi signature. A distinct nonspreading morphological phenotype was identified for genes involved in membrane secretion or synthesis. In this group, we identified a new secretory peptide and investigated the functions of two poorly characterized endoplasmic reticulum proteins that have roles in secretion. Thus, this genome-wide screen succeeded in identifying known and unexpected proteins that are important for cell spreading, and the computational tools developed in this study should prove useful for other types of automated whole genome screens.
RNA interference is a powerful method to understand gene function, especially when conducted at a whole-genome scale and in a quantitative context. In C. elegans, gene function can be knocked down simply and efficiently by feeding worms with bacteria expressing a dsRNA corresponding to a specific gene 1. While the creation of libraries of RNAi clones covering most of the C. elegans genome 2,3 opened the way for true functional genomic studies (see for example 4-7), most established methods are laborious. Moy and colleagues have developed semi-automated protocols that facilitate genome-wide screens 8. The approach relies on microscopic imaging and image analysis.
Here we describe an alternative protocol for a high-throughput genome-wide screen, based on robotic handling of bacterial RNAi clones, quantitative analysis using the COPAS Biosort (Union Biometrica (UBI)), and an integrated software: the MBioLIMS (Laboratory Information Management System from Modul-Bio) a technology that provides increased throughput for data management and sample tracking. The method allows screens to be conducted on solid medium plates. This is particularly important for some studies, such as those addressing host-pathogen interactions in C. elegans, since certain microbes do not efficiently infect worms in liquid culture.
We show how the method can be used to quantify the importance of genes in anti-fungal innate immunity in C. elegans. In this case, the approach relies on the use of a transgenic strain carrying an epidermal infection-inducible fluorescent reporter gene, with GFP under the control of the promoter of the antimicrobial peptide gene nlp 29 and a red fluorescent reporter that is expressed constitutively in the epidermis. The latter provides an internal control for the functional integrity of the epidermis and nonspecific transgene silencing9. When control worms are infected by the fungus they fluoresce green. Knocking down by RNAi a gene required for nlp 29 expression results in diminished fluorescence after infection. Currently, this protocol allows more than 3,000 RNAi clones to be tested and analyzed per week, opening the possibility of screening the entire genome in less than 2 months.
Molecular Biology; Issue 60; C. elegans; fluorescent reporter; Biosort; LIMS; innate immunity; Drechmeria coniospora
RNA interference (RNAi) leads to sequence-specific knockdown of gene function. The approach can be used in large-scale screens to interrogate function in various model organisms and an increasing number of other species. Genome-scale RNAi screens are routinely performed in cultured or primary cells or in vivo in organisms such as C. elegans. High-throughput RNAi screening is benefitting from the development of sophisticated new instrumentation and software tools for collecting and analyzing data, including high-content image data. The results of large-scale RNAi screens have already proved useful, leading to new understandings of gene function relevant to topics such as infection, cancer, obesity and aging. Nevertheless, important caveats apply and should be taken into consideration when developing or interpreting RNAi screens. Some level of false discovery is inherent to high-throughput approaches and specific to RNAi screens, false discovery due to off-target effects (OTEs) of RNAi reagents remains a problem. The need to improve our ability to use RNAi to elucidate gene function at large scale and in additional systems continues to be addressed through improved RNAi library design, development of innovative computational and analysis tools and other approaches.
RNAi; high-throughput screens; high-content imaging; cell-based assays
RNA interference (RNAi) has become a powerful genetic approach to systematically dissect gene function on a genome-wide scale. Owing to the penetrance and efficiency of RNAi in invertebrates, model organisms such as Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans have contributed significantly to the identification of novel components of diverse biological pathways, ranging from early development to fat storage and aging. For the correct assessment of phenotypes, a key issue remains the stringent quality control of long double-stranded RNAs (dsRNA) to calculate potential off-target effects that may obscure the phenotypic data. We here describe a web-based tool to evaluate and design optimized dsRNA constructs. Moreover, the application also gives access to published predesigned dsRNAs. The E-RNAi web application is available at .
RNA interference (RNAi) has become a powerful tool for genetic screening in Drosophila. At the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center (DRSC), we are using a library of over 21 000 double-stranded RNAs targeting known and predicted genes in Drosophila. This library is available for the use of visiting scientists wishing to perform full-genome RNAi screens. The data generated from these screens are collected in the DRSC database () in a flexible format for the convenience of the scientist and for archiving data. The long-term goal of this database is to provide annotations for as many of the uncharacterized genes in Drosophila as possible. Data from published screens are available to the public through a highly configurable interface that allows detailed examination of the data and provides access to a number of other databases and bioinformatics tools.
Systematic, large-scale RNA interference (RNAi) approaches are very valuable to systematically investigate biological processes in cell culture or in tissues of organisms such as Drosophila. A notorious pitfall of all RNAi technologies are potential false positives caused by unspecific knock-down of genes other than the intended target gene. The ultimate proof for RNAi specificity is a rescue by a construct immune to RNAi, typically originating from a related species.
We show that primary sequence divergence in areas targeted by Drosophila melanogaster RNAi hairpins in five non-melanogaster species is sufficient to identify orthologs for 81% of the genes that are predicted to be RNAi refractory. We use clones from a genomic fosmid library of Drosophila pseudoobscura to demonstrate the rescue of RNAi phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster muscles. Four out of five fosmid clones we tested harbour cross-species functionality for the gene assayed, and three out of the four rescue a RNAi phenotype in Drosophila melanogaster.
The Drosophila pseudoobscura fosmid library is designed for seamless cross-species transgenesis and can be readily used to demonstrate specificity of RNAi phenotypes in a systematic manner.
How signaling cascades influence gene regulation at the level of chromatin modification is not well understood. We studied this process using the Wingless/Wnt pathway in Drosophila. When cells sense Wingless ligand, Armadillo (the fly β-catenin) becomes stabilized and translocates to the nucleus, where it binds to the sequence-specific DNA binding protein TCF to activate transcription of target genes. Here, we show that Wingless signaling induces TCF and Armadillo recruitment to a select subset of TCF binding site clusters that act as Wingless response elements. Despite this localized TCF/Armadillo recruitment, histones are acetylated over a wide region (up to 30 kb) surrounding the Wingless response elements in response to pathway activation. This widespread histone acetylation occurs independently of transcription. In contrast to Wingless targets, other active genes not regulated by the pathway display sharp acetylation peaks centered on their core promoters. Widespread acetylation of Wingless targets is dependent upon CBP, a histone acetyltransferase known to bind to Armadillo and is correlated with activation of target gene expression. These data suggest that pathway activation induces localized recruitment of TCF/Armadillo/CBP to Wingless response elements, leading to widespread histone acetylation of target loci prior to transcriptional activation.
The phenomenon that is known as RNA mediated interference (RNAi) was first observed in the nematode C. elegans. The application of RNAi has now been widely disseminated and the mechanisms underlying the pathway have been uncovered using both genetics and biochemistry. In the worm, it has been demonstrated that RNAi is easily adapted to high throughput analysis and screening protocols. Hence, given the availability of whole genome sequences, RNAi has been used extensively as a tool for annotating gene function. Genetic screens performed with C. elegans have also led to the identification of genes that are essential for RNAi or that modulate the RNAi process. The identification of such genes has made it possible to manipulate and enhance the RNAi response. Moreover, many of the genes identified in C. elegans have been conserved in other organisms. Thus, opportunities are available for researchers to take advantage of the insights gained from the worm and apply them to their own systems in order to improve the efficiency and potency of the RNAi response.
C. elegans; RdRP; RNA interference; siRNA; systemic RNAi
Here we describe a detailed methodology to study the function of genes whose products function during mitosis by dsRNA-mediated interference (RNAi) in cultured cells of Drosophila melanogaster. This procedure is particularly useful for the analysis of genes for which genetic mutations are not available or for the dissection of complicated phenotypes derived from the analysis of such mutants. With the advent of whole genome sequencing it is expected that RNAi-based screenings will be one method of choice for the identification and study of novel genes involved in particular cellular processes. In this paper we focused particularly on the procedures for the proper phenotypic analysis of cells after RNAi-mediated depletion of proteins required for mitosis, the process by which the genetic information is segregated equally between daughter cells. We use RNAi of the microtubule-associated protein MAST/Orbit as an example for the usefulness of the technique.
Mitosis; Microtubules; Kinetochores; Drosophila
Techniques for targeted genetic disruption in Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, are currently intractable for those genes that are essential for blood stage development. The ability to use RNA interference (RNAi) to silence gene expression would provide a powerful means to gain valuable insight into the pathogenic blood stages but its functionality in Plasmodium remains controversial. Here we have used various RNA-based gene silencing approaches to test the utility of RNAi in malaria parasites and have undertaken an extensive comparative genomics search using profile hidden Markov models to clarify whether RNAi machinery exists in malaria. These investigative approaches revealed that Plasmodium lacks the enzymology required for RNAi-based ablation of gene expression and indeed no experimental evidence for RNAi was observed. In its absence, the most likely explanations for previously reported RNAi-mediated knockdown are either the general toxicity of introduced RNA (with global down-regulation of gene expression) or a specific antisense effect mechanistically distinct from RNAi, which will need systematic analysis if it is to be of use as a molecular genetic tool for malaria parasites.