Piwi and piRNAs act upstream of an endogenous siRNA pathway to suppress Tc3 transposon mobility in the Caenorhabditis elegans germline.

P.P. Das, M.P. Bagijn, L.D. Goldstein, J.R. Woolford, N.J. Lehrbach, A. Sapetschnig, H.R. Buhecha, M.J. Gilchrist, K.L Howe, R. Stark, N. Matthews, E. Berezikov, R.F. Ketting, S. Tavare, E.A. Miska

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The Piwi proteins of the Argonaute superfamily are required for normal germline development in Drosophila, zebrafish, and mice and associate with 24-30 nucleotide RNAs termed piRNAs. We identify a class of 21 nucleotide RNAs, previously named 21U-RNAs, as the piRNAs of C. elegans. Piwi and piRNA expression is restricted to the male and female germline and independent of many proteins in other small-RNA pathways, including DCR-1. We show that Piwi is specifically required to silence Tc3, but not other Tc/mariner DNA transposons. Tc3 excision rates in the germline are increased at least 100-fold in piwi mutants as compared to wild-type. We find no evidence for a Ping-Pong model for piRNA amplification in C. elegans. Instead, we demonstrate that Piwi acts upstream of an endogenous siRNA pathway in Tc3 silencing. These data might suggest a link between piRNA and siRNA function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-90
JournalMolecular Cell
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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