Author(s): Dalzell JJ, McMaster S, Fleming CC, Maule AG
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Abstract The analysis of gene function through RNA interference (RNAi)-based reverse genetics in plant parasitic nematodes (PPNs) remains inexplicably reliant on the use of long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) silencing triggers; a practice inherently disadvantageous due to the introduction of superfluous dsRNA sequence, increasing chances of aberrant or off-target gene silencing through interactions between nascent short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and non-cognate mRNA targets. Recently, we have shown that non-nematode, long dsRNAs have a propensity to elicit profound impacts on the phenotype and migrational abilities of both root knot and cyst nematodes. This study presents, to our knowledge for the first time, gene-specific knockdown of FMRFamide-like peptide (flp) transcripts, using discrete 21bp siRNAs in potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida, and root knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita infective (J2) stage juveniles. Both knockdown at the transcript level through quantitative (q)PCR analysis and functional data derived from migration assay, indicate that siRNAs targeting certain areas of the FMRFamide-like peptide (FLP) transcripts are potent and specific in the silencing of gene function. In addition, we present a method of manipulating siRNA activity through the management of strand thermodynamics. Initial evaluation of strand thermodynamics as a determinant of RNA-Induced Silencing Complex (RISC) strand selection (inferred from knockdown efficacy) in the siRNAs presented here suggested that the purported influence of 5' stand stability on guide incorporation may be somewhat promiscuous. However, we have found that on strategically incorporating base mismatches in the sense strand of a G. pallida-specific siRNA, we could specifically increase or decrease the knockdown of its target (specific to the antisense strand), presumably through creating more favourable thermodynamic profiles for incorporation of either the sense (non-target-specific) or antisense (target-specific) strand into a cleavage-competent RISC. Whilst the efficacy of similar approaches to siRNA modification has been demonstrated in the context of Drosophila whole-cell lysate preparations and in mammalian cell cultures, it remained to be seen how these sense strand mismatches may impact on gene silencing in vivo, in relation to different targets and in different sequence contexts. This work presents the first application of such an approach in a whole organism; initial results show promise. Copyright 2009 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Int J Parasitol
and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology