Antisense transcription licenses nascent transcripts to mediate transcriptional gene silencing

Yunkun Dang, Jiasen Cheng, Xianyun Sun, Zhipeng Zhou, Yi Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In eukaryotes, antisense transcription can regulate sense transcription by induction of epigenetic modifications. We showed previously that antisense transcription triggers Dicer-independent siRNA (disiRNA) production and disiRNA locus DNA methylation (DLDM) in Neurospora crassa. Here we show that the conserved exonuclease ERI-1 (enhanced RNAi-1) is a critical component in this process. Antisense transcription and ERI-1 binding to target RNAs are necessary and sufficient to trigger DLDM. Convergent transcription causes stalling of RNA polymerase II during transcription, which permits ERI-1 to bind nascent RNAs in the nucleus and recruit a histone methyltransferase complex that catalyzes chromatin modifications. Furthermore, we show that, in the cytoplasm, ERI-1 targets hundreds of transcripts from loci without antisense transcription to regulate RNA stability. Together, our results demonstrate a critical role for transcription kinetic116s in long noncoding RNA-mediated epigenetic modifications and identify ERI-1 as an important regulator of cotranscriptional gene silencing and post-transcriptional RNA metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2417-2432
Number of pages16
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Antisense transcription
  • DNA methylation
  • Gene silencing
  • Neurospora
  • Small RNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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