Phylogenetic origin and diversification of RNAi pathway genes in insects

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Daniel Dowling
  • Thomas Pauli
  • Alexander Donath
  • Karen Meusemann
  • Lars Podsiadlowski
  • Malte Petersen
  • Ralph S. Peters
  • Christoph Mayer
  • Liu, Shanlin
  • Xin Zhou
  • Bernhard Misof
  • Oliver Niehuis

RNAinterference (RNAi) refers tothe set ofmolecular processes foundin eukaryotic organisms in which smallRNAmolecules mediate the silencing or down-regulation of target genes. In insects, RNAi serves a number of functions, including regulation of endogenous genes, anti-viral defense, and defense against transposable elements. Despite being well studied in model organisms, such as Drosophila, the distribution of core RNAi pathway genes and their evolution in insects is not well understood. Here we present the most comprehensive overview of the distribution and diversity of core RNAi pathway genes across 100 insect species, encompassing all currently recognized insect orders. We inferred the phylogenetic origin of insect-specific RNAi pathway genes and also identified several hitherto unrecorded gene expansions using whole-body transcriptome data from the international 1KITE (1000 Insect Transcriptome Evolution) project aswell asother resources such as i5K(5000InsectGenomeProject). Specifically,we traced the origin of the double stranded RNAbinding protein R2D2 to the lastcommon ancestor of winged insects (Pterygota), the loss of Sid-1/ Tag-130 orthologs in Antliophora (fleas, flies and relatives, and scorpionflies in a broad sense), and confirm previous evidence for the splitting of the Argonaute proteins Aubergine and Piwi in Brachyceran flies (Diptera, Brachycera). Our study offers new reference points for future experimental research on RNAi-related pathway genes in insects.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)3784-3793
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Argonaute, Dicer, Evolution, R2d2, RNA interference

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