The RNA interference proteins and vasa locus are involved in the silencing of retrotransposons in the female germline of Drosophila melanogaster

RNA Biol. 2004 May;1(1):54-8. Epub 2004 May 21.


RNA interference (RNAi) is considered as a defense against expansion of transposable elements. The proteins related to RNA helicase and Argonaute families are involved in RNAi process in different organisms. It was shown that Argonaute AUBERGINE and putative RNA helicase SPINDLE-E proteins were essential for RNAi in Drosophila. Here, we describe the role of aubergine (aub) and spindle-E (spn-E) genes in the control of LTR retrotransposon copia and nonLTR telomeric Het-A and I retrotransposons in ovaries. spn-E mutation causes a drastically increased lacZ expression driven by copia LTR. For the first time we show the involvement of AUBERGINE protein and VASA RNA helicase, essential for oocyte patterning, in the retrotransposon silencing. spn-E, vasa and aub mutations cause similar accumulation of both I element and Het-A transcripts in the developing oocyte. VASA and AUBERGINE proteins are known as components of perinuclear ribonucleoprotein particles in germ cells, and spn-E mutation disturbs protein content of the particles. We suggest participation of these proteins in the same silencing pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / genetics*
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / physiology
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Female
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Lac Operon
  • Mutation
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Peptide Initiation Factors / physiology*
  • RNA Helicases / chemistry
  • RNA Interference*
  • Retroelements / genetics*
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Peptide Initiation Factors
  • Retroelements
  • aub protein, Drosophila
  • vas protein, Drosophila
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases
  • RNA Helicases