Molecular dissection of a genome defense pathway in Neurospora crassa
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Meiotic silencing by unpaired DNA (MSUD) is an RNA interference (RNAi) pathway in Neurospora crassa that detects genes without a homologous partner and silences them for the duration of sexual development. In this study, we have further elucidated the function of known MSUD proteins, identified novel proteins that are required for MSUD, and demonstrated the conservation of RNAi-related processes at the nuclear periphery. We began by showing SAD-2 is crucial for the localization of other MSUD proteins in the perinuclear region. These data suggest that SAD-2 works as a scaffold protein and that proper function of MSUD, like other germline RNAi-like systems, is reliant on the presence of silencing proteins in the perinuclear region. An MSUD suppression assay identified two novel MSUD proteins, SAD-Y and SAD-B'. Even though SAD-Y and its homologs contain a conserved putative RNA- binding motif, they have yet to be assigned to a biochemical pathway. Our work here has linked silencing to SAD-Y-like proteins. SAD-Y has been shown to interact with other MSUD factors in both the nucleus and at the nuclear periphery. SAD-B's homolog has been found in the nuage, an epicenter for RNA-binding proteins involved in post-transcriptional regulation for Drosophila germline cells. SAD-B interacts with core MSUD proteins and has an especially intimate association with SMS-2, which requires it for localization. Furthermore, bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) revealed that SAD-B' interacts with a Golgi retrograde transport protein and an autophagy marker protein, suggesting the importance of the endomembrane system in this RNAi process.