Research Article

RNA interference is essential for cellular quiescence

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Science  13 Oct 2016:
aah5651
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah5651

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Abstract

Quiescent cells play a predominant role in most organisms. Here, we identify RNA interference (RNAi) as a major requirement for quiescence (G0) in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. RNAi mutants lose viability at G0-entry and are unable to maintain long-term quiescence. We obtained dcr1Δ G0 suppressors, which mapped to genes involved in chromosome segregation, RNA polymerase-associated factors, and heterochromatin formation. We propose a model in which RNAi promotes RNA polymerase release in cycling and quiescent cells: (i) RNA pol II release mediates heterochromatin formation at centromeres allowing proper chromosome segregation during mitotic growth and G0-entry, and (ii) RNA pol I release prevents heterochromatin formation at rDNA during quiescence maintenance. Our model may account for the co-dependency of RNAi and H3K9 methylation throughout eukaryotic evolution.

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