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Direct evidence for transport of RNA from the mouse brain to the germline and offspring


BACKGROUND: The traditional concept that heritability occurs exclusively from the transfer of germline-restricted genetics is being challenged by the increasing accumulation of evidence confirming the existence of experience-dependent transgenerational inheritance. However, questions remain unanswered as to how heritable information can be passed from somatic cells. Previous studies have implicated the critical involvement of RNA in heritable transgenerational effects, and the high degree of mobility and genomic impact of RNAs in all organisms is an attractive model for the efficient transfer of genetic information. RESULTS: We hypothesized that RNA may be transported from a somatic tissue, in this case the brain, of an adult male mouse to the germline, and subsequently to embryos. To investigate this, we injected one hemisphere of the male mouse striatum with an AAV1/9 virus expressing human pre-MIR941 (MIR941). After 2, 8 and 16 weeks following injection, we used an LNA-based qPCR system to detect the presence of virus and human MIR941 in brain, peripheral tissues and embryos, from injected male mice mated with uninjected females. Virus was never detected outside of the brain. Verification of single bands of the correct size for MIR941 was performed using Sanger sequencing while quantitation demonstrated that a small percentage (~ 1-8%) of MIR941 is transported to the germline and to embryos in about a third of the cases. CONCLUSIONS: We show that somatic RNA can be transported to the germline and passed on to embryos, thereby providing additional evidence of a role for RNA in somatic cell-derived intergenerational effects.

Type Journal
ISBN 1741-7007 (Electronic) 1741-7007 (Linking)
Authors O'Brien, E. A.; Ensbey, K. S.; Day, B. W.; Baldock, P. A.; Barry, G.
Responsible Garvan Author A/Prof Paul Baldock
Publisher Name BMC Biology
Published Date 2020-04-30
Published Volume 18
Published Issue 1
Published Pages 45
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1186/s12915-020-00780-w
URL link to publisher's version