Chapter

RNA Interference

Volume 320 of the series Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology pp 157-183

RNAi-Mediated Chromatin Silencing in Fission Yeast

  • Sharon A. WhiteAffiliated withWelcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, Institute of Cell Biology, The University of Edinburgh
  • , Robin C. Allshire

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Abstract

In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the RNAi pathway plays an important role in the formation and maintenance of heterochromatin. Heterochromatin, or silent chromatin, is an epigenetically inherited attribute of eukaryotic chromosomes which is required for gene regulation, chromosome segregation and maintenance of genome stability. In S. pombe, heterochromatin forms on related repetitive DNA sequences at specific loci. These repetitive sequences, in concert with the RNAi machinery, are thought to attract several proteins including chromatin-modifying enzymes which act to promote heterochromatin formation. The purification of complexes participating in heterochromatin formation has allowed us to begin to analyse in detail the processes involved. In the future this will help us to understand how the RNAi machinery acts to induce the chromatin modifications which lead to heterochromatin assembly in fission yeast.