Detrimental effects of RNAi: a cautionary note on its use in drosophila ageing studies

Nazif Alic*, Matthew P. Hoddinott, Andrea Foley, Cathy Slack, Matthew D.W. Piper, Linda Partridge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RNA interference (RNAi) provides an important tool for gene function discovery. It has been widely exploited in Caenorhabditis elegans ageing research because it does not appear to have any non-specific effects on ageing-related traits in that model organism. We show here that ubiquitous, adult-onset activation of the RNAi machinery, achieved by expressing a double stranded RNA targeting GFP or lacZ for degradation, or by increasing expression of Dicer substantially reduces lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster. Induction of GFPRNAi construct also alters the response of lifespan to nutrition, exacerbating the lifespan-shortening effects of food containing a high quantity of yeast. Our study indicates that activation of the RNAi machinery may have sequence-independent side-effects on lifespan, and that caution needs to be exercised when employing ubiquitous RNAi in Drosophila ageing studies. However, we also show that RNAi restricted to certain tissues may not be detrimental to lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere45367
Number of pages5
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2012

Bibliographical note

© Alic et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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