The retrotransposon DIRS-1 is the most abundant retroelement in Dictyostelium discoideum and constitutes the pericentromeric heterochromatin of the six chromosomes in D. discoideum. The vast majority of cellular siRNAs is derived from DIRS-1, suggesting that the element is controlled by RNAi-related mechanisms. We investigated the role of two of the five Argonaute proteins of D. discoideum, AgnA and AgnB, in DIRS-1 silencing. Deletion of agnA resulted in the accumulation of DIRS-1 transcripts, the expression of DIRS-1-encoded proteins, and the loss of most DIRS-1-derived secondary siRNAs. Simultaneously, extrachromosomal single-stranded DIRS-1 DNA accumulated in the cytoplasm of agnA- strains. These DNA molecules appear to be products of reverse transcription and thus could represent intermediate structures before transposition. We further show that transitivity of endogenous siRNAs is impaired in agnA- strains. The deletion of agnB alone had no strong effect on DIRS-1 transposon regulation. However, in agnA-/agnB- double mutant strains strongly reduced accumulation of extrachromosomal DNA compared with the single agnA- strains was observed.
Keywords: Argonaute; Gene Silencing; RNA Interference (RNAi); Small Interfering RNA (siRNA); Transposable Element (TE).
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.