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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dicer is essential for formation of the heterochromatin structure in vertebrate cells.

RNA interference is an evolutionarily conserved gene-silencing pathway in which the nuclease Dicer cleaves double-stranded RNA into small interfering RNAs. The biological function of the RNAi-related pathway in vertebrate cells is not fully understood. Here, we report the generation of a conditional loss-of-function Dicer mutant in a chicken-human hybrid DT40 cell line that contains human chromosome 21. We show that loss of Dicer results in cell death with the accumulation of abnormal mitotic cells that show premature sister chromatid separation. Aberrant accumulation of transcripts from alpha-satellite sequences, which consist of human centromeric repeat DNAs, was detected in Dicer-deficient cells. Immunocytochemical analysis revealed abnormalities in the localization of two heterochromatin proteins, Rad21 cohesin protein and BubR1 checkpoint protein, but the localization of core kinetochore proteins such as centromere protein (CENP)-A and -C was normal. We conclude that Dicer-related RNA interference machinery is involved in the formation of the heterochromatin structure in higher vertebrate cells.[1]


  1. Dicer is essential for formation of the heterochromatin structure in vertebrate cells. Fukagawa, T., Nogami, M., Yoshikawa, M., Ikeno, M., Okazaki, T., Takami, Y., Nakayama, T., Oshimura, M. Nat. Cell Biol. (2004) [Pubmed]
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