Role of the microrna pathway in Caenorhabditis elegans germline maintenance

Authors: Bukhari, Syed Irfan Ahmad
Advisor: Masson, Jean-YvesSimard, Martin
Abstract: Small non-coding RNA pathways assume pleiotropic roles in the regulation of multitude of biological processes. These non-coding RNAs have been shown to be involved in germline development in diverse species, in addition to their well-known participation in gene regulation and viral resistance pathways. However, the contribution of the miRNA, one of the small non-coding RNA pathways in germline biogenesis has remained elusive. Since ALG-1 and ALG-2 are exclusively involved in the miRNA pathway and indispensible for miRNA mediated gene silencing, we decided to genetically manipulate these genes to address whether miRNA pathway plays an important role in germline proliferation and differentiation using C. elegans as animal model. As double knockout of alg-1 and alg-2 leads to sterility, which mirrors the phenotypes of Drosha and Dicer mutants, we reasoned that the miRNA pathway proteins are crucial in germline maintenance. To delineate the role of ALG-1 and ALG-2 in the complex processes of germline regulation, we first investigated the brood size of alg-1(gk214) and alg-2(ok304) animals. Both mutants had significantly decreased brood size, which could result from defects in germline proliferation, meiosis or gamete formation. An extensive analysis of the germline of these mutants revealed a smaller mitotic region with less number of proliferating germ cells compared to the wild type. We also observed early entry into meiosis in alg-1(gk214) and alg-2(ok304). Using immunofluorescence and transgenic reporters, we confirmed ALG-1 and ALG-2 expression in DTC, a specialized cell located at the tip of both C. elegans gonadal arms that regulates mitosis-meiosis transition. Using transgenic line with alg-1 expressed exclusively in the DTC, we were able to partially rescue the brood size defect and completely restored the number of cells in the mitotic region. These mutants also presented defects in gamete formation and an increase in germ cell apoptosis. Interestingly, we observed that the disruption of five miRNAs expressed in the DTC display similar phenotypes as observed in alg-1 and alg-2 mutants. Finally, gene expression analysis by microarray of alg-1 mutant gonads indicates that the miRNA pathway is involved in the regulation of different pathways important for germline proliferation and differentiation. Together, our data supports the role of miRNA pathway in controlling germline biogenesis in C. elegans.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2012
Open Access Date: 18 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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