Understanding the Genetic Basis for piRNA Silencing in the Soma and Germline of Caenorhabditis elegans



C. elegans is a commonly used genetic model organism due to the ease of genetic screens, transgenesis, and microscopy. Here, I describe methods that improve transgenesis in C. elegans and the development of a genetic screen to identify genes involved in the piRNA pathway. Transgenesis is commonly used for most laboratories that utilize C. elegans and improvements are therefore likely to facilitate research across many research areas. In the first chapter, I characterized a pan-muscular promoter that drives fluorophore expression to help identify C. elegans transgenesis. This promoter is an improved co-injection marker as it drives bright fluorescence with low toxicity and high efficiency. In the second chapter, I study piRNAs which are a large class of non-coding RNA that play important roles in protecting the genome from transposable elements in most animals. The study of piRNAs has mostly focused on their function in the germline, but recent evidence suggests functions in somatic cells such as neurons. To identify genes involved in the piRNA pathway in C. elegans, I performed a chemical genetic screen. I identified one mutant with a somatic phenotype and six mutants with a germline phenotype. I have focused on the germline and sequenced two strains and identified candidate genes involved in the piRNA pathway. Future work will focus on validating and identifying the remaining mutants.
Date made available2021
PublisherKAUST Research Repository

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