Critical roles of long noncoding RNAs in Drosophila spermatogenesis.


Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), a recently discovered class of cellular RNAs, play important roles in the regulation of many cellular developmental processes. Although lncRNAs have been systematically identified in various systems, most of them have not been functionally characterized in vivo in animal models. In this study, we identified 128 testis-specific Drosophila lncRNAs and knocked out 105 of them using an optimized three-component CRISPR/Cas9 system. Among the lncRNA knockouts, 33 (31%) exhibited a partial or complete loss of male fertility, accompanied by visual developmental defects in late spermatogenesis. In addition, six knockouts were fully or partially rescued by transgenes in a trans configuration, indicating that those lncRNAs primarily work in trans Furthermore, gene expression profiles for five lncRNA mutants revealed that testis-specific lncRNAs regulate global gene expression, orchestrating late male germ cell differentiation. Compared with coding genes, the testis-specific lncRNAs evolved much faster. Moreover, lncRNAs of greater functional importance exhibited higher sequence conservation, suggesting that they are under constant evolutionary selection. Collectively, our results reveal critical functions of rapidly evolving testis-specific lncRNAs in late Drosophila spermatogenesis.

DOI: 10.1101/gr.199547.115


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@article{Wen2016CriticalRO, title={Critical roles of long noncoding RNAs in Drosophila spermatogenesis.}, author={Kejia Wen and LiJuan Yang and Tuanlin Xiong and Chao Di and Danhui Ma and Menghua Wu and Zhaoyu Xue and Xuedi Zhang and Li Hai Long and Weimin Zhang and Jiaying Zhang and Xiaolin Bi and Junbiao Dai and Qiangfeng Cliff Zhang and Zhi John Lu and Guanjun Gao}, journal={Genome research}, year={2016}, volume={26 9}, pages={1233-44} }