The Vasa Homolog RDE-12 engages target mRNA and multiple argonaute proteins to promote RNAi in C. elegans

Curr Biol. 2014 Apr 14;24(8):845-51. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.008. Epub 2014 Mar 27.


Argonaute (AGO) proteins are key nuclease effectors of RNAi. Although purified AGOs can mediate a single round of target RNA cleavage in vitro, accessory factors are required for small interfering RNA (siRNA) loading and to achieve multiple-target turnover. To identify AGO cofactors, we immunoprecipitated the C. elegans AGO WAGO-1, which engages amplified small RNAs during RNAi. These studies identified a robust association between WAGO-1 and a conserved Vasa ATPase-related protein RDE-12. rde-12 mutants are deficient in RNAi, including viral suppression, and fail to produce amplified secondary siRNAs and certain endogenous siRNAs (endo-siRNAs). RDE-12 colocalizes with WAGO-1 in germline P granules and in cytoplasmic and perinuclear foci in somatic cells. These findings and our genetic studies suggest that RDE-12 is first recruited to target mRNA by upstream AGOs (RDE-1 and ERGO-1), where it promotes small RNA amplification and/or WAGO-1 loading. Downstream of these events, RDE-12 forms an RNase-resistant (target mRNA-independent) complex with WAGO-1 and may thus have additional functions in target mRNA surveillance and silencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Argonaute Proteins / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / genetics
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA Interference / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Argonaute Proteins
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases
  • RDE-12 protein, C elegans

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE54396