Double-stranded RNAs targeting inhibitor of apoptosis gene show no significant cross-species activity

Shankar C.R.R. Chereddy, Dhandapani Gurusamy, Jeffrey L. Howell, Subba R. Palli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


RNA interference (RNAi) has become an integral part of mainstream research due to its versatility and ease of use. However, the potential nontarget effects associated with double-stranded RNAs (dsRNA) are poorly understood. To explore this, we used dsRNAs targeting the inhibitor of apoptosis (iap) gene from nine insect species and assayed their possible nontarget effects. For each assay, we used a control (dsRNA targeting the gene coding for green fluorescent protein, GFP) and a species-specific dsRNA targeting nine iap genes in insect species to evaluate target gene knockdown efficiency, apoptosis phenotype in cells and mortality in insects. Our results revealed that dsIAP efficiently knocks down iap gene expression and induces apoptosis phenotype and mortality in target insect species. In contrast, no significant knockdown of the iap gene expression, apoptosis phenotypes, or mortality were detected in cell lines developed from nontarget insects or nontarget insects treated with dsIAPs. Interestingly, even among closely related insects such as stink bugs, Nezara viridula, Halyomorpha halys, and Murgantia histrionica, with substantial sequence similarity among iap genes from these insects, no significant nontarget effects of dsIAP were observed under the conditions tested. These data demonstrate no significant nontarget effects for dsIAPs and suggest that the threat of nontarget effects of RNAi technology may not be substantial.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21683
JournalArchives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (GM070559‐14 and 1R21AI131427‐02), the National Science Foundation (Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers, the Center for Arthropod Management Technologies under Grant IIP‐1821936), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, HATCH under 2353057000 and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2019‐67013‐29351. We thank Mrs. Smitha George from Palli lab for help with the injection of dsRNAs into RFB larvae.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • Inhibitor of apoptosis
  • Leptinotarsa decemlineata
  • Nezara viridula
  • Tribolium castaneum
  • nontarget effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Insect Science


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