Short interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of drosha and pasha in undifferentiated Meloidogyne incognita eggs leads to irregular growth and embryonic lethality

Johnathan Dalzell, Neil Warnock, M.A. Stevenson, Angela Mousley, Colin Fleming, Aaron Maule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Micro-(mi)RNAs play a pivotal role in the developmental regulation of plants and animals. We reasoned that disruption of normal heterochronic activity in differentiating Meloidogyne incognita eggs may lead to irregular development, lethality and by extension, represent a novel target for parasite control On silencing the nuclear RNase III enzyme drosha, a critical effector of miRNA maturation in animals, we found a significant inhibition of normal development and hatching in short interfering (sORNA-soaked M incognita eggs Developing juveniles presented with highly irregular tissue patterning within the egg, and we found that unlike our previous gene silencing efforts focused on FMRFamide (Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-NH2)-like peptides (FLPs), there was no observable phenotypic recovery following removal of the environmental siRNA. Aberrant phenotypes were exacerbated over time, and drosha knockdown proved embryonically lethal Subsequently, we identified and silenced the drosha cofactor pasha, revealing a comparable inhibition of normal embryonic development within the eggs to that of drosha-silenced eggs, eventually leading to embryonic lethality To further probe the link between normal embryonic development and the M. incognita RNA interference (RNAi) pathway, we attempted to examine the impact of silencing the cytosolic RNase III enzyme dicer. Unexpectedly, we found a substantial up-regulation of dicer transcript abundance, which did not impact on egg differentiation or hatching rates. Silencing of the individual transcripts in hatched J2s was significantly less successful and resulted in temporary phenotypic aberration of the J2s. which recovered within 24 h to normal movement and posture on washing out the siRNA. Soaking the J2s in dicer siRNA resulted in a modest decrease in dicer transcript abundance which had no observable impact on phenotype or behaviour within 48 h of initial exposure to siRNA. We propose that drosha, pasha and their ancillary factors may represent excellent targets for novel nematicides and/or in planta controls aimed at M incognita, and potentially other parasitic nematodes, through disruption of miRNA-directed developmental pathways. In addition, we have identified a putative Mi-en-I transcript which encodes an RNAi-inhibiting siRNA exonuclease We observe a marked up-regulation of MI-en-I transcript abundance in response to exogenously introduced siRNA, and reason that this may impact on the interpretation of RN/NI-based reverse genetic screens in plant parasitic nematodes. (C) 2010 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1310
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Short interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of drosha and pasha in undifferentiated Meloidogyne incognita eggs leads to irregular growth and embryonic lethality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this