A phagocytic route for uptake of double-stranded RNA in RNAi.
RNA interference (RNAi) has a range of physiological functions including as a defence mechanism against viruses. To protect uninfected cells in a multicellular organism, not only a cell-autonomous RNAi response is required but also a systemic one. However, the route of RNA spread in systemic RNAi remains unclear. Here we show that phagocytosis can be a route for double-stranded RNA uptake. Double-stranded RNA expressed in Escherichia coli induces robust RNAi in Drosophila S2 cells, with effectiveness comparable to that of naked dsRNA. We could separate this phagocytic uptake route from that for RNAi induced by naked dsRNA. Therefore, phagocytic uptake of dsRNA offers a potential route for systemic spread of RNAi.