The role of the Cer1 transposon in horizontal transfer of transgenerational memory.

TitleThe role of the Cer1 transposon in horizontal transfer of transgenerational memory.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMoore, RS, Kaletsky, R, Lesnik, C, Cota, V, Blackman, E, Parsons, LR, Gitai, Z, Murphy, CT
Date Published2021 Sep 02
KeywordsAnimals, Avoidance Learning, Behavior, Animal, Caenorhabditis elegans, DNA Transposable Elements, Extracellular Vesicles, Gene Expression Regulation, Gene Transfer, Horizontal, Genome, Germ Cells, Inheritance Patterns, Memory, RNA, RNA Interference, Virion

<p>Animals face both external and internal dangers: pathogens threaten from the environment, and unstable genomic elements threaten from within. C. elegans protects itself from pathogens by "reading" bacterial small RNAs, using this information to both induce avoidance and transmit memories for four generations. Here, we found that memories can be transferred from either lysed animals or from conditioned media to naive animals via Cer1 retrotransposon-encoded virus-like particles. Moreover, Cer1 functions internally at the step of transmission of information from the germline to neurons and is required for learned avoidance. The presence of the Cer1 retrotransposon in wild C. elegans strains correlates with the ability to learn and inherit small-RNA-induced pathogen avoidance. Together, these results suggest that C. elegans has co-opted a potentially dangerous retrotransposon to instead protect itself and its progeny from a common pathogen through its inter-tissue signaling ability, hijacking this genomic element for its own adaptive immunity benefit.</p>

Alternate JournalCell
PubMed ID34363756
PubMed Central IDPMC8812995
Grant ListDP1 AI124669 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
DP1 GM119167 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
T32 GM007388 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
AWD1005048 / HHMI / Howard Hughes Medical Institute / United States