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A starvation-induced noncoding RNA modulates expression of Dicer-regulated genes

PNAS, 2 September 2008
Vol. 105, Issue 35, p. 12897-12902
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0805118105

A starvation-induced noncoding RNA modulates expression of Dicer-regulated genes

  1. Sabine Hellwig and
  2. Brenda L. Bass*
  1. Department of Biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
  1. Edited by Alan M. Lambowitz, University of Texas, Austin, TX, and approved July 10, 2008 (received for review May 26, 2008)


Although much has been learned about short noncoding RNAs, long noncoding transcripts are largely uncharacterized. Here, we describe Caenorhabditis elegans rncs-1, a highly base-paired, 800-nucleotide noncoding RNA expressed in hypodermis and intestine. Transcription of rncs-1 is modulated in response to food supply. Although highly double-stranded, we show that rncs-1 RNA is not a substrate for Dicer because of branched structures at its termini. However, rncs-1 RNA inhibits Dicer cleavage of a second dsRNA in vitro, presumably by competition. We validate this observation in vivo by demonstrating that mRNA levels of several Dicer-regulated genes vary with changes in rncs-1 expression. Certain viruses express dsRNA to compete with cellular dsRNA-mediated pathways, and our data suggest that rncs-1 provides a cellular correlate of this phenomenon.

  • adenosine deaminase that acts on RNA (ADAR)
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • double-stranded RNA
  • miRNA
  • siRNA


  • *To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: bbass{at}
  • Author contributions: S.H. and B.L.B. designed research; S.H. performed research; S.H. and B.L.B. analyzed data; and S.H. and B.L.B. wrote the paper.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

  • This article contains supporting information online at

  • Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.


S. Hellwig and B. L. Bass, A starvation-induced noncoding RNA modulates expression of Dicer-regulated genes. PNAS 105, 12897-12902 (2008).

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