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Cell. 2009 May 1;137(3):509-21. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.04.027. Epub 2009 Apr 23.

Collapse of germline piRNAs in the absence of Argonaute3 reveals somatic piRNAs in flies.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, 01605, USA.

Abstract

Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) silence transposons in animal germ cells. piRNAs are thought to derive from long transcripts spanning transposon-rich genomic loci and to direct an autoamplification loop in which an antisense piRNA, bound to Aubergine or Piwi protein, triggers production of a sense piRNA bound to the PIWI protein Argonaute3 (Ago3). In turn, the new piRNA is envisioned to produce a second antisense piRNA. Here, we describe strong loss-of-function mutations in ago3, allowing a direct genetic test of this model. We find that Ago3 acts to amplify piRNA pools and to enforce on them an antisense bias, increasing the number of piRNAs that can act to silence transposons. We also detect a second, Ago3-independent piRNA pathway centered on Piwi. Transposons targeted by this second pathway often reside in the flamenco locus, which is expressed in somatic ovarian follicle cells, suggesting a role for piRNAs beyond the germline.

PMID:
19395009
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2768572
Free PMC Article

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