The rde-1 gene, RNA interference, and transposon silencing in C. elegans

Cell. 1999 Oct 15;99(2):123-32. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81644-x.


Double-stranded (ds) RNA can induce sequence-specific inhibition of gene function in several organisms. However, both the mechanism and the physiological role of the interference process remain mysterious. In order to study the interference process, we have selected C. elegans mutants resistant to dsRNA-mediated interference (RNAi). Two loci, rde-1 and rde-4, are defined by mutants strongly resistant to RNAi but with no obvious defects in growth or development. We show that rde-1 is a member of the piwi/sting/argonaute/zwille/eIF2C gene family conserved from plants to vertebrates. Interestingly, several, but not all, RNAi-deficient strains exhibit mobilization of the endogenous transposons. We discuss implications for the mechanism of RNAi and the possibility that one natural function of RNAi is transposon silencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Yeast
  • Cosmids
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Helminth Proteins / chemistry
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics*
  • Homozygote
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / genetics*
  • RNA, Helminth / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Helminth
  • rde-1 protein, C elegans
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF180730