The Helicase Aquarius/EMB-4 Is Required to Overcome Intronic Barriers to Allow Nuclear RNAi Pathways to Heritably Silence Transcription

Alper Akay, Tomas Di Domenico, Kin M. Suen, Amena Nabih, Guillermo E. Parada, Mark Larance, Ragini Medhi, Ahmet C. Berkyurek, Xinlian Zhang, Christopher J. Wedeles, Konrad L.M. Rudolph, Jan Engelhardt, Martin Hemberg, Ping Ma, Angus I. Lamond, Julie M. Claycomb, Eric A. Miska (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)
    220 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Small RNAs play a crucial role in genome defense against transposable elements and guide Argonaute proteins to nascent RNA transcripts to induce co-transcriptional gene silencing. However, the molecular basis of this process remains unknown. Here, we identify the conserved RNA helicase Aquarius/EMB-4 as a direct and essential link between small RNA pathways and the transcriptional machinery in Caenorhabditis elegans. Aquarius physically interacts with the germline Argonaute HRDE-1. Aquarius is required to initiate small-RNA-induced heritable gene silencing. HRDE-1 and Aquarius silence overlapping sets of genes and transposable elements. Surprisingly, removal of introns from a target gene abolishes the requirement for Aquarius, but not HRDE-1, for small RNA-dependent gene silencing. We conclude that Aquarius allows small RNA pathways to compete for access to nascent transcripts undergoing co-transcriptional splicing in order to detect and silence transposable elements. Thus, Aquarius and HRDE-1 act as gatekeepers coordinating gene expression and genome defense.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)241-255.e6
    Number of pages21
    JournalDevelopmental Cell
    Volume42
    Issue number3
    Early online date7 Aug 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2017

    Keywords

    • C. elegans
    • epigenetic inheritance
    • nuclear RNAi
    • piRNA
    • Piwi
    • RNA processing
    • RNAi
    • splicing
    • transcription
    • transposable elements

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental Biology

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'The Helicase Aquarius/EMB-4 Is Required to Overcome Intronic Barriers to Allow Nuclear RNAi Pathways to Heritably Silence Transcription'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this