Piwi and piRNAs Act Upstream of an Endogenous siRNA Pathway to Suppress Tc3 Transposon Mobility in the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline

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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. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Das, P. P., Bagijn, M. P., Goldstein, L. D., Woolford, J. R., Lehrbach, N. J., Sapetschnig, A., … Miska, E. A. (2008). Piwi and piRNAs Act Upstream of an Endogenous siRNA Pathway to Suppress Tc3 Transposon Mobility in the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline. Molecular Cell, 31(1), 79–90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2008.06.003

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