Small nucleolar RNA interference induced by antisense or double-stranded RNA in trypanosomatids

Xue hai Liang, Qing Liu, Shulamit Michaeli

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39 Scopus citations


In trypanosomes the C/D- and H/ACA-like small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are clustered and repeated in the genome. The snoRNAs studied to date are transcribed as polycistronic transcripts by RNA polymerase II and then processed, resulting in mature snoRNAs. In this study we demonstrated that snoRNA genes can be silenced in three trypanosomatid species: Leptomonas collosoma, Leishmania major, and Trypanosoma brucei. Silencing was achieved in L. collosoma and L. major by the expressing of an antisense transcript complementary to the snoRNA gene and was accompanied by the accumulation of small interfering RNA. Silencing eliminated the mature snoRNA but not its precursor and abolished the specific 2'-O-methylation guided by the snoRNA. In T. brucei, silencing was achieved by using the inducible synthesis of double-stranded RNA from T7 opposing promoters. Silencing varied between the different snoRNA genes, which may reflect the accessibility of small interfering RNA to the target RNAs. This study suggests that RNA interference can degrade snoRNAs. This study has further implications in elucidating the function of nucleolar RNAs and specific modifications guided by these RNAs in trypanosomatids and perhaps in other eukaryotes as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7521-7526
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2003


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