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. 2016 Mar 24;165(1):88-99.
doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.02.057.

A Tunable Mechanism Determines the Duration of the Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance in C. Elegans

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A Tunable Mechanism Determines the Duration of the Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance in C. Elegans

Leah Houri-Ze'evi et al. Cell. .
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Abstract

In C. elegans, small RNAs enable transmission of epigenetic responses across multiple generations. While RNAi inheritance mechanisms that enable "memorization" of ancestral responses are being elucidated, the mechanisms that determine the duration of inherited silencing and the ability to forget the inherited epigenetic effects are not known. We now show that exposure to dsRNA activates a feedback loop whereby gene-specific RNAi responses dictate the transgenerational duration of RNAi responses mounted against unrelated genes, elicited separately in previous generations. RNA-sequencing analysis reveals that, aside from silencing of genes with complementary sequences, dsRNA-induced RNAi affects the production of heritable endogenous small RNAs, which regulate the expression of RNAi factors. Manipulating genes in this feedback pathway changes the duration of heritable silencing. Such active control of transgenerational effects could be adaptive, since ancestral responses would be detrimental if the environments of the progeny and the ancestors were different.

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