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ERC

FRONTIERS OF RNAI-II Report Summary

Project ID: 323071
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Switzerland

Mid-Term Report Summary - FRONTIERS OF RNAI-II (High resolution and chemical genetic approaches to RNA silencing mechanisms)

Small molecules known as microRNAs and siRNAs have been recently discovered in a plethora of organisms ranging from fungi, plants, invertebrates to human. These appear to regulate fundamental aspect of biology by protecting the cells against invasive pathogens and by regulating gene expression. In Human, defects in some microRNAs have been linked to the onset of cancer, whereas in plants, these molecules control essential aspects of development and response to stresses such as drought or viral and bacterial infections. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that processes underlying the production and action of these molecules be understood and harnessed to improve crop production as well as veterinary and Human Health. Our project is geared toward this objective with an emphasis of the roles of small RNAs in plants. The project aims, in particular, (i) at establishing a high resolution map of the production, movement and activity of miRNAs in the root system of the plant model Arabidopsis and to (ii) understand how a particularly important group of proteins, called ARGONAUTEs, which are key effectors of miRNA action, function in the context of the several compartments found in plant and human cells. Finally, (iii) we are investigating how the application of specifically chosen chemical compounds can be used to modify at will the biological output and concentrations of siRNAs and microRNAs. In particular, we are now focusing on molecules that elevate siRNA concentration in whole plants and thereby provide them tolerance or even immunity against a large range of viruses. In this mid-term project report we are presenting very encouraging progresses made toward the completion of those three objectives, which are likely to generate in the near future some ground breaking publications in scientific journals.

Reported by

EIDGENOESSISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE ZURICH
Switzerland
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