RNAi analysis of genes expressed in the ovary of Caenorhabditis elegans

Curr Biol. 2000 Dec 14-28;10(24):1619-22. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(00)00869-1.


As a step towards comprehensive functional analysis of genomes, systematic gene knockout projects have been initiated in several organisms [1]. In metazoans like C. elegans, however, maternal contribution can mask the effects of gene knockouts on embryogenesis. RNA interference (RNAi) provides an alternative rapid approach to obtain loss-of-function information that can also reveal embryonic roles for the genes targeted [2,3]. We have used RNAi to analyze a random set of ovarian transcripts and have identified 81 genes with essential roles in embryogenesis. Surprisingly, none of them maps on the X chromosome. Of these 81 genes, 68 showed defects before the eight-cell stage and could be grouped into ten phenotypic classes. To archive and distribute these data we have developed a database system directly linked to the C. elegans database (Wormbase). We conclude that screening cDNA libraries by RNAi is an efficient way of obtaining in vivo function for a large group of genes. Furthermore, this approach is directly applicable to other organisms sensitive to RNAi and whose genomes have not yet been sequenced.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / anatomy & histology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression*
  • Gene Library
  • Genes, Helminth*
  • Helminth Proteins / classification
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Morphogenesis
  • Ovary / physiology
  • RNA, Helminth / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • RNA, Helminth / metabolism


  • Helminth Proteins
  • RNA, Helminth