Special Issue "RNA Interference 2016"

A special issue of Genes (ISSN 2073-4425). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Genetics and Genomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2016).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Wenyi Gu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld, Australia
Interests: RNA interference therapy; drug/siRNA delivery; cancer biology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

RNA interference (RNAi) is a conserved gene-regulation mechanism in all eukaryotic cells, where micro-RNA (miRNA), small interfering RNA (siRNA), and small hairpin RNA (shRNA) interact with mRNAs in a sequence-specific way and cause the cleavage or translational blockage of the gene. Since its discovery in 1996, it has been widely used as a powerful tool for gene function study in many biology laboratories worldwide. In addition, because the blockage is very specific and at the transcriptional level, RNAi-mediated gene silencing (RNAi therapy) is believed to hold great promise for effectively treating many diseases. For example, RNAi has been proven to be an effective means in gene therapy for viral infections, genetic disorders and cancers. As the advance of drug delivery systems especially with the advanced nanotechnology, siRNA delivery has been greatly proceeded and exciting results have been achieved, which makes RNAi therapy much closer to clinical application. Beside RNAi therapy, another area under active investigation is the relationship between RNAi pathway and host immune system; that is RNAi not only involves in innate immunity but also adaptive immunity. A better understanding of this relationship and combination of gene silencing with induced immunity will lead to more effective and safe therapies for cancer or other diseases.

Dr. Wenyi Gu
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • RNA interference
  • Gene therapy
  • Gene silencing
  • miRNA /therapy
  • Drug/siRNA delivery
  • RNAi and immunity
  • miRNA and immunity

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Systematic Identification and Assessment of Therapeutic Targets for Breast Cancer Based on Genome-Wide RNA Interference Transcriptomes
Genes 2017, 8(3), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes8030086 - 24 Feb 2017
Cited by 7
Abstract
With accumulating public omics data, great efforts have been made to characterize the genetic heterogeneity of breast cancer. However, identifying novel targets and selecting the best from the sizeable lists of candidate targets is still a key challenge for targeted therapy, largely owing [...] Read more.
With accumulating public omics data, great efforts have been made to characterize the genetic heterogeneity of breast cancer. However, identifying novel targets and selecting the best from the sizeable lists of candidate targets is still a key challenge for targeted therapy, largely owing to the lack of economical, efficient and systematic discovery and assessment to prioritize potential therapeutic targets. Here, we describe an approach that combines the computational evaluation and objective, multifaceted assessment to systematically identify and prioritize targets for biological validation and therapeutic exploration. We first establish the reference gene expression profiles from breast cancer cell line MCF7 upon genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) of a total of 3689 genes, and the breast cancer query signatures using RNA-seq data generated from tissue samples of clinical breast cancer patients in the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Based on gene set enrichment analysis, we identified a set of 510 genes that when knocked down could significantly reverse the transcriptome of breast cancer state. We then perform multifaceted assessment to analyze the gene set to prioritize potential targets for gene therapy. We also propose drug repurposing opportunities and identify potentially druggable proteins that have been poorly explored with regard to the discovery of small-molecule modulators. Finally, we obtained a small list of candidate therapeutic targets for four major breast cancer subtypes, i.e., luminal A, luminal B, HER2+ and triple negative breast cancer. This RNAi transcriptome-based approach can be a helpful paradigm for relevant researches to identify and prioritize candidate targets for experimental validation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Open AccessArticle
AAC as a Potential Target Gene to Control Verticillium dahliae
Genes 2017, 8(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes8010025 - 10 Jan 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
Verticillium dahliae invades the roots of host plants and causes vascular wilt, which seriously diminishes the yield of cotton and other important crops. The protein AAC (ADP, ATP carrier) is responsible for transferring ATP from the mitochondria into the cytoplasm. When V. dahliae [...] Read more.
Verticillium dahliae invades the roots of host plants and causes vascular wilt, which seriously diminishes the yield of cotton and other important crops. The protein AAC (ADP, ATP carrier) is responsible for transferring ATP from the mitochondria into the cytoplasm. When V. dahliae protoplasts were transformed with short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) targeting the VdAAC gene, fungal growth and sporulation were significantly inhibited. To further confirm a role for VdAAC in fungal development, we generated knockout mutants (ΔVdACC). Compared with wild-type V. dahliae (Vd wt), ΔVdAAC was impaired in germination and virulence; these impairments were rescued in the complementary strains (ΔVdAAC-C). Moreover, when an RNAi construct of VdAAC under the control of the 35S promoter was used to transform Nicotiana benthamiana, the expression of VdAAC was downregulated in the transgenic seedlings, and they had elevated resistance against V. dahliae. The results of this study suggest that VdAAC contributes to fungal development, virulence and is a promising candidate gene to control V. dahliae. In addition, RNAi is a highly efficient way to silence fungal genes and provides a novel strategy to improve disease resistance in plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Open AccessArticle
Parameters for Successful Parental RNAi as An Insect Pest Management Tool in Western Corn Rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera
Genes 2017, 8(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes8010007 - 24 Dec 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
Parental RNAi (pRNAi) is an RNA interference response where the gene knockdown phenotype is observed in the progeny of the treated organism. pRNAi has been demonstrated in female western corn rootworms (WCR) via diet applications and has been described as a potential approach [...] Read more.
Parental RNAi (pRNAi) is an RNA interference response where the gene knockdown phenotype is observed in the progeny of the treated organism. pRNAi has been demonstrated in female western corn rootworms (WCR) via diet applications and has been described as a potential approach for rootworm pest management. However, it is not clear if plant-expressed pRNAi can provide effective control of next generation WCR larvae in the field. In this study, we evaluated parameters required to generate a successful pRNAi response in WCR for the genes brahma and hunchback. The parameters tested included a concentration response, duration of the dsRNA exposure, timing of the dsRNA exposure with respect to the mating status in WCR females, and the effects of pRNAi on males. Results indicate that all of the above parameters affect the strength of pRNAi phenotype in females. Results are interpreted in terms of how this technology will perform in the field and the potential role for pRNAi in pest and resistance management strategies. More broadly, the described approaches enable examination of the dynamics of RNAi response in insects beyond pRNAi and crop pests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Open AccessCommunication
Mutant CAG Repeats Effectively Targeted by RNA Interference in SCA7 Cells
Genes 2016, 7(12), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes7120132 - 17 Dec 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) is a human neurodegenerative polyglutamine (polyQ) disease caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the open reading frame of the ATXN7 gene. The allele-selective silencing of mutant transcripts using a repeat-targeting strategy has previously been used for several [...] Read more.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) is a human neurodegenerative polyglutamine (polyQ) disease caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the open reading frame of the ATXN7 gene. The allele-selective silencing of mutant transcripts using a repeat-targeting strategy has previously been used for several polyQ diseases. Herein, we demonstrate that the selective targeting of a repeat tract in a mutant ATXN7 transcript by RNA interference is a feasible approach and results in an efficient decrease of mutant ataxin-7 protein in patient-derived cells. Oligonucleotides (ONs) containing specific base substitutions cause the downregulation of the ATXN7 mutant allele together with the upregulation of its normal allele. The A2 ON shows high allele selectivity at a broad range of concentrations and also restores UCHL1 expression, which is downregulated in SCA7. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Open AccessArticle
Host-Derived Artificial MicroRNA as an Alternative Method to Improve Soybean Resistance to Soybean Cyst Nematode
Genes 2016, 7(12), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes7120122 - 08 Dec 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
The soybean cyst nematode (SCN), Heterodera glycines, is one of the most important pests limiting soybean production worldwide. Novel approaches to managing this pest have focused on gene silencing of target nematode sequences using RNA interference (RNAi). With the discovery of endogenous [...] Read more.
The soybean cyst nematode (SCN), Heterodera glycines, is one of the most important pests limiting soybean production worldwide. Novel approaches to managing this pest have focused on gene silencing of target nematode sequences using RNA interference (RNAi). With the discovery of endogenous microRNAs as a mode of gene regulation in plants, artificial microRNA (amiRNA) methods have become an alternative method for gene silencing, with the advantage that they can lead to more specific silencing of target genes than traditional RNAi vectors. To explore the application of amiRNAs for improving soybean resistance to SCN, three nematode genes (designated as J15, J20, and J23) were targeted using amiRNA vectors. The transgenic soybean hairy roots, transformed independently with these three amiRNA vectors, showed significant reductions in SCN population densities in bioassays. Expression of the targeted genes within SCN eggs were downregulated in populations feeding on transgenic hairy roots. Our results provide evidence that host-derived amiRNA methods have great potential to improve soybean resistance to SCN. This approach should also limit undesirable phenotypes associated with off-target effects, which is an important consideration for commercialization of transgenic crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Open AccessArticle
Downregulation of Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 (EZH2) is essential for the Induction of Autophagy and Apoptosis in Colorectal Cancer Cells
Genes 2016, 7(10), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes7100083 - 03 Oct 2016
Cited by 10
Abstract
Increasing evidence indicates that elevated expression of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 gene (EZH2) in many human malignant tumors acts a significant role in the oncogenic process. However, the underlying molecular mechanism is still unclarified. It is evident that apoptosis and autophagy of [...] Read more.
Increasing evidence indicates that elevated expression of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 gene (EZH2) in many human malignant tumors acts a significant role in the oncogenic process. However, the underlying molecular mechanism is still unclarified. It is evident that apoptosis and autophagy of tumor cells is crucial for the tumorigenesis and progression of cancer, however, the exact role of EZH2 plays in apoptosis and autophagy has not been fully elucidated in colorectal cancer (CRC). Our previous study found that the expression level of EZH2 was higher in CRC tumor tissues than in the paired normal tissues using immunohistochemical analysis. We also recently found that the autophagy‐related gene‐related protein Ambra1 plays an important role in the autophagy pathway in CRC cells. In this study, mRNA and protein expression of EZH2 in four CRC cell lines were tested at first and RKO and HCT116 cells showed the highest levels among them. Here we transfected with EZH2‐shRNA, or added DZNep (an EZH2 inhibitor) to RKO and HCT116 cells in order to detect the effect of EZH2 on autophagy via determining the change of the protein expression of LC3 and Ambra1. The outcome indicated an obvious decrease of autophagy level in cells transfected with EZH2‐shRNA or DZNep. We also found the apoptotic rate of cells was elevated significantly after downregulation of EZH2. In addition, compared to control group, CRC cells transfected with EZH2‐shRNA or added DZNep revealed a significantly increased G1 cell cycle rate and an obvious decrease in the G2 cell cycle rate. Further analysis showed that knockdown of EZH2 induced cell-cycle arrest in CRC cells. Meanwhile, downregulation of EZH2 in CRC cells induces autophagy and apoptosis. Taken together, our results suggest that EZH2 plays a critical role in autophagy and apoptosis in the progression of CRC, which potentially facilitates the development of an ideal strategy for combating colorectal cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Open AccessArticle
The Silencing of a 14-3-3ɛ Homolog in Tenebrio molitor Leads to Increased Antimicrobial Activity in Hemocyte and Reduces Larval Survivability
Genes 2016, 7(8), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes7080053 - 20 Aug 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
The 14-3-3 family of phosphorylated serine-binding proteins acts as signaling molecules in biological processes such as metabolism, division, differentiation, autophagy, and apoptosis. Herein, we report the requirement of 14-3-3ɛ isoform from Tenebrio molitor (Tm14-3-3ɛ) in the hemocyte antimicrobial activity. The Tm14-3-3ɛ transcript is [...] Read more.
The 14-3-3 family of phosphorylated serine-binding proteins acts as signaling molecules in biological processes such as metabolism, division, differentiation, autophagy, and apoptosis. Herein, we report the requirement of 14-3-3ɛ isoform from Tenebrio molitor (Tm14-3-3ɛ) in the hemocyte antimicrobial activity. The Tm14-3-3ɛ transcript is 771 nucleotides in length and encodes a polypeptide of 256 amino acid residues. The protein has the typical 14-3-3 domain, the nuclear export signal (NES) sequence, and the peptide binding residues. The Tm14-3-3ɛ transcript shows a significant three-fold expression in the hemocyte of T. molitor larvae when infected with Escherichia coli Tm14-3-3ɛ silenced larvae show significantly lower survival rates when infected with E. coli. Under Tm14-3-3ɛ silenced condition, a strong antimicrobial activity is elicited in the hemocyte of the host inoculated with E. coli. This suggests impaired secretion of antimicrobial peptides (AMP) into the hemolymph. Furthermore, a reduction in AMP secretion under Tm14-3-3ɛ silenced condition would be responsible for loss in the capacity to kill bacteria and might explain the reduced survivability of the larvae upon E. coli challenge. This shows that Tm14-3-3ɛ is required to maintain innate immunity in T. molitor by enabling antimicrobial secretion into the hemolymph and explains the functional specialization of the isoform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Combination of RNA Interference and Stem Cells for Treatment of Central Nervous System Diseases
Genes 2017, 8(5), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes8050135 - 06 May 2017
Cited by 1
Abstract
RNA interference (RNAi), including microRNAs, is an important player in the mediation of differentiation and migration of stem cells via target genes. It is used as a potential strategy for gene therapy for central nervous system (CNS) diseases. Stem cells are considered vectors [...] Read more.
RNA interference (RNAi), including microRNAs, is an important player in the mediation of differentiation and migration of stem cells via target genes. It is used as a potential strategy for gene therapy for central nervous system (CNS) diseases. Stem cells are considered vectors of RNAi due to their capacity to deliver RNAi to other cells. In this review, we discuss the recent advances in studies of RNAi pathways in controlling neuronal differentiation and migration of stem cells. We also highlight the utilization of a combination of RNAi and stem cells in treatment of CNS diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Open AccessReview
Achieving HIV-1 Control through RNA-Directed Gene Regulation
Genes 2016, 7(12), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes7120119 - 07 Dec 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
HIV-1 infection has been transformed by combined anti-retroviral therapy (ART), changing a universally fatal infection into a controllable infection. However, major obstacles for an HIV-1 cure exist. The HIV latent reservoir, which exists in resting CD4+ T cells, is not impacted by ART, [...] Read more.
HIV-1 infection has been transformed by combined anti-retroviral therapy (ART), changing a universally fatal infection into a controllable infection. However, major obstacles for an HIV-1 cure exist. The HIV latent reservoir, which exists in resting CD4+ T cells, is not impacted by ART, and can reactivate when ART is interrupted or ceased. Additionally, multi-drug resistance can arise. One alternate approach to conventional HIV-1 drug treatment that is being explored involves gene therapies utilizing RNA-directed gene regulation. Commonly known as RNA interference (RNAi), short interfering RNA (siRNA) induce gene silencing in conserved biological pathways, which require a high degree of sequence specificity. This review will provide an overview of the silencing pathways, the current RNAi technologies being developed for HIV-1 gene therapy, current clinical trials, and the challenges faced in progressing these treatments into clinical trials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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Open AccessReview
RNA Interference in Moths: Mechanisms, Applications, and Progress
Genes 2016, 7(10), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes7100088 - 19 Oct 2016
Cited by 14
Abstract
The vast majority of lepidopterans, about 90%, are moths. Some moths, particularly their caterpillars, are major agricultural and forestry pests in many parts of the world. However, some other members of moths, such as the silkworm Bombyx mori, are famous for their [...] Read more.
The vast majority of lepidopterans, about 90%, are moths. Some moths, particularly their caterpillars, are major agricultural and forestry pests in many parts of the world. However, some other members of moths, such as the silkworm Bombyx mori, are famous for their economic value. Fire et al. in 1998 initially found that exogenous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) can silence the homolog endogenous mRNA in organisms, which is called RNA interference (RNAi). Soon after, the RNAi technique proved to be very promising not only in gene function determination but also in pest control. However, later studies demonstrate that performing RNAi in moths is not as straightforward as shown in other insect taxa. Nevertheless, since 2007, especially after 2010, an increasing number of reports have been published that describe successful RNAi experiments in different moth species either on gene function analysis or on pest management exploration. So far, more than 100 peer-reviewed papers have reported successful RNAi experiments in moths, covering 10 families and 25 species. By using classic and novel dsRNA delivery methods, these studies effectively silence the expression of various target genes and determine their function in larval development, reproduction, immunology, resistance against chemicals, and other biological processes. In addition, a number of laboratory and field trials have demonstrated that RNAi is also a potential strategy for moth pest management. In this review, therefore, we summarize and discuss the mechanisms and applications of the RNAi technique in moths by focusing on recent progresses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Interference 2016)
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