Transgenerational inheritance of an acquired small RNA-based antiviral response in C. elegans

Oded Rechavi*, Gregory Minevich, Oliver Hobert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Induced expression of the Flock House virus in the soma of C. elegans results in the RNAi-dependent production of virus-derived, small-interfering RNAs (viRNAs), which in turn silence the viral genome. We show here that the viRNA-mediated viral silencing effect is transmitted in a non-Mendelian manner to many ensuing generations. We show that the viral silencing agents, viRNAs, are transgenerationally transmitted in a template-independent manner and work in trans to silence viral genomes present in animals that are deficient in producing their own viRNAs. These results provide evidence for the transgenerational inheritance of an acquired trait, induced by the exposure of animals to a specific, biologically relevant physiological challenge. The ability to inherit such extragenic information may provide adaptive benefits to an animal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1248-1256
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - 9 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


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