RNA silencing refers to a series of nuclear and cytoplasmatic processes involved in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression or post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), either by sequence-specific mRNA degradation or by translational arrest. The best characterized small RNAs are microRNAs (miRNAs), which predominantly perform gene silencing through post-transcriptional mechanisms. In this work we used bioinformatic approaches to identify the parasitic trematode Schistosoma mansoni sequences that are similar to enzymes involved in the post-transcriptional gene silencing mediated by miRNA pathway. We used amino acid sequences of well-known proteins involved in the miRNA pathway against S. mansoni genome and transcriptome databases identifying a total of 13 putative proteins in the parasite. In addition, the transcript levels of SmDicer1 and SmAgo2/3/4 were identified by qRT-PCR using cercariae, adult worms, eggs and in vitro cultivated schistosomula. Our results showed that the SmDicer1 and SmAgo2/3/4 are differentially expressed during schistosomula development, suggesting that the miRNA pathway is regulated at the transcript level and therefore may control gene expression during the life cycle of S. mansoni. © 2008.
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