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J Cell Biol. 2009 Aug 10;186(3):333-42. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200904063. Epub 2009 Aug 3.

piRNAs mediate posttranscriptional retroelement silencing and localization to pi-bodies in the Drosophila germline.

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  • 1Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, The National University of Singapore, 117604 Singapore.


Nuage, a well-conserved perinuclear organelle found in germline cells, is thought to mediate retroelement repression in Drosophila melanogaster by regulating the production of Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). In this study, we present evidence that the nuage-piRNA pathway components can be found in cytoplasmic foci that also contain retroelement transcripts, antisense piRNAs, and proteins involved in messenger RNA (mRNA) degradation. These mRNA degradation proteins, decapping protein 1/2 (DCP1/2), Me31B (maternal expression at 31B), and pacman (PCM), are normally thought of as components of processing bodies. In spindle-E (spn-E) and aubergine (aub) mutants that lack piRNA production, piRNA pathway proteins no longer overlap the mRNA degradation proteins. Concomitantly, spn-E and aub mutant ovaries show an accumulation of full-length retroelement transcripts and prolonged stabilization of HeT-A mRNA, supporting the role of piRNAs in mediating posttranscriptional retroelement silencing. HeT-A mRNA is derepressed in mRNA degradation mutants twin, dcp1, and ski3, indicating that these enzymes also aid in removing full-length transcripts and/or decay intermediates.

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