A genome-wide screening for RNAi pathway proteins in Acari
BackgroundRNA interference (RNAi) is a highly conserved, sequence-specific gene silencing mechanism present in Eukaryotes. Three RNAi pathways are known, namely micro-RNA (miRNA), Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) and short interfering RNA (siRNA). However, little knowledge exists about the proteins involved in these pathways in Acari. Moreover, variable successes has been obtained in gene knockdown via siRNA pathway in their functional genomics and management. We hypothesized that the clue may be
... the variability of the composition and the efficacy of siRNA machinery among Acari.ResultsBoth comparative genomic analyses and domain annotation suggest that all the analyzed species have homologs of putative core proteins that mediate cleaving of targeted genes via the three RNAi pathways. We identified putative homologs of Caenorhabditis elegans RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) protein in all species though no secondary Argonaute homologs that operate with this protein in siRNA amplification mechanism were found, suggesting that the siRNA amplification mechanism present in Acari may be distinct from that described in C. elegans. Moreover, the genomes of these species do not encode homologs of C. elegans systemic RNAi defective 1 (Sid-1) protein that mediate silencing of the mRNA target throughout the treated organisms suggesting that the phenomena of systemic RNAi that has been reported in some Acari species probably occur through a different mechanism. However, Homologs of putative RNAi spreading defective-3 (Rsd-3) protein and scavenger receptors namely Eater and SR-CI that mediate endocytosis cellular update of dsRNA in C. elegans and Drosophila melanogaster were found in Acari genomes. This result suggests that cellular dsRNA uptake in Acari is endocytosis-dependent. Detailed phylogenetic analyses of core RNAi pathway proteins in the studied species revealed that their evolution is compatible with the proposed monophyletic evolution of this group.ConclusionsOur analyses have revealed the potential activity of all three pathways in Acari. Still, much experimental work remains to be done to confirm the mechanisms behind these pathways in particular those that govern systemic/parental RNAi and siRNA amplification in Acari. Disclosure of these mechanisms will facilitate the development of new and specific management tools for the harmful species and enrichment of the beneficial species.