You'd Prefer An Argonaute

RNA Journal Club 6/16/11

Posted in RNA Journal Club by YPAA on June 16, 2011

(Hat tip to Igor for this one.)

The Effectiveness of RNAi in Caenorhabditis elegans Is Maintained during Spaceflight

Timothy Etheridge, Kanako Nemoto, Toko Hashizume, Chihiro Mori, Tomoko Sugimoto, Hiromi Suzuki, Keiji Fukui, Takashi Yamazaki, Akira Higashibata, Nathaniel J. Szewczyk1, Atsushi Higashitani

PLoS ONE 6(6): e20459, 1 June 2011.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020459

Background: Overcoming spaceflight-induced (patho)physiologic adaptations is a major challenge preventing long-term deep space exploration. RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as a promising therapeutic for combating diseases on Earth; however the efficacy of RNAi in space is currently unknown.

Methods: Caenorhabditis elegans were prepared in liquid media on Earth using standard techniques and treated acutely with RNAi or a vector control upon arrival in Low Earth Orbit. After culturing during 4 and 8 d spaceflight, experiments were stopped by freezing at 280uC until analysis by mRNA and microRNA array chips, microscopy and Western blot on return to Earth. Ground controls (GC) on Earth were simultaneously grown under identical conditions.

Results: After 8 d spaceflight, mRNA expression levels of components of the RNAi machinery were not different from that in GC (e.g., Dicer, Argonaute, Piwi; P.0.05). The expression of 228 microRNAs, of the 232 analysed, were also unaffected during 4 and 8 d spaceflight (P.0.05). In spaceflight, RNAi against green fluorescent protein (gfp) reduced chromosomal gfp expression in gonad tissue, which was not different from GC. RNAi against rbx-1 also induced abnormal chromosome segregation in the gonad during spaceflight as on Earth. Finally, culture in RNAi against lysosomal cathepsins prevented degradation of the muscle-specific a-actin protein in both spaceflight and GC conditions.

Conclusions: Treatment with RNAi works as effectively in the space environment as on Earth within multiple tissues, suggesting RNAi may provide an effective tool for combating spaceflight-induced pathologies aboard future long-duration space missions. Furthermore, this is the first demonstration that RNAi can be utilised to block muscle protein degradation, both on Earth and in space.

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