Selective sensitivity of Caenorhabditis elegans neurons to RNA interference

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Abstract

RNA interference is a new approach to knockdown gene expression, but effectiveness varies depending on the organism, cell type or target sequence. Studies with Caenorhabditis elegans have shown that subsets of cells including neurons are often resistant to RNA interference. We measured RNA interference using green fluorescent protein reporter strains and feeding, soaking and injection delivery methods in a number of Caenorhabditis elegans neuron subtypes (dopaminergic, GABAergic, cholinergic, glutamatergic, touch). The sensitivity to RNA interference varied: GABAergic and dopaminergic neurons showed greater resistance while cholinergic, glutamatergic and touch neurons were more sensitive. Dysfunctional RRF-3, a putative RNA-directed RNA polymerase, had a significant effect on increasing neuron sensitivity in most subtypes. These results demonstrate that Caenorhabditis elegans neurons vary in their sensitivity to RNA interference.

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