Explorations of evolution and adaptive regulation by testis-specific hairpin RNA-target interaction networks across 12 Drosophila genomes


Our recent study on the testis-specific Drosophila long hairpin RNA derived endogenous small interfering RNAs (hpRNA) pathway showed, for the first time, that this class of endo-siRNAs co-evolve with and adaptively regulate their protein-coding gene targets and causes severe phenotypic defects in sperm development and male fertility. Given this promising result of hpRNA endo-siRNAs’ significant impact on animal evolution and development, it is essential to fully understand this system: we will investigate whether similar roles occur in other Drosophila clades and analogous systems in mammals. As many hpRNAs are newly evolved, a broader phylogeny will be needed to study small RNA evolution and adaptive regulation, beyond the model organisms. We will develop computa- tional approaches to gain a full picture of how this unique class of small RNAs evolves, works and functionally impacts on the animal.

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