Studying membrane trafficking in the worm C. elegans by RNA interference

Zita Balklava*, Elizabeth Sztul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A powerful approach to gain understanding of molecular machinery responsible for membrane trafficking is through inactivation of gene function by RNA interference (RNAi). RNAi-mediated gene silencing occurs when a double-stranded RNA is introduced into cells and targets a complementary mRNA for degradation. The subsequent lack of mRNA prevents the synthesis of the corresponding protein and ultimately causes depletion of a particular gene product from the cell. The effects of such depletion can then by analyzed by functional, morphological, and biochemical assays. RNAi-mediated knockdowns of numerous gene products in cultured cells of mammalian and other species origins have provided significant new insight into traffic regulation and represent standard approaches in current cell biology. However, RNAi in the multicellular nematode Caenorhabditis elegans model allows RNAi studies within the context of a whole organism, and thus provides an unprecedented opportunity to explore effects of specific trafficking regulators within the context of distinct developmental stages and diverse cell types. In addition, various transgenic C. elegans strains have been developed that express marker proteins tagged with fluorescent proteins to facilitate the analysis of trafficking within the secretory and endocytic pathways. This chapter provides a detailed description of a basic RNAi approach that can be used to analyze the function of any gene of interest in secretory and endosomal trafficking in C. elegans. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-68
Number of pages18
JournalMethods in Cell Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • endocytosis
  • membrane trafficking
  • nematode C. elegans
  • RNAi
  • secretion


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