Non-coding RNAs mediate the rearrangements of genomic DNA in ciliatesReport as inadecuate

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Science China Life Sciences

, Volume 56, Issue 10, pp 937–943

First Online: 05 September 2013Received: 01 July 2013Accepted: 10 August 2013DOI: 10.1007-s11427-013-4539-4

Cite this article as: Feng, X. & Guang, S. Sci. China Life Sci. 2013 56: 937. doi:10.1007-s11427-013-4539-4


Most eukaryotes employ a variety of mechanisms to defend the integrity of their genome by recognizing and silencing parasitic mobile nucleic acids. However, recent studies have shown that genomic DNA undergoes extensive rearrangements, including DNA elimination, fragmentation, and unscrambling, during the sexual reproduction of ciliated protozoa. Non-coding RNAs have been identified to program and regulate genome rearrangement events. In Paramecium and Tetrahymena, scan RNAs scnRNAs are produced from micronuclei and transported to vegetative macronuclei, in which scnRNA elicits the elimination of cognate genomic DNA. In contrast, Piwi-interacting RNAs piRNAs in Oxytricha enable the retention of genomic DNA that exhibits sequence complementarity in macronuclei. An RNA interference RNAi-like mechanism has been found to direct these genomic rearrangements. Furthermore, in Oxytricha, maternal RNA templates can guide the unscrambling process of genomic DNA. The non-coding RNA-directed genome rearrangements may have profound evolutionary implications, for example, eliciting the multigenerational inheritance of acquired adaptive traits.

KeywordsRNAi gene silencing scnRNA piRNA rearrangement elimination This article is published with open access at

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Author: XueZhu Feng - ShouHong Guang


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