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J Cell Biol. 2010 Nov 29;191(5):905-13. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201006034.

piRNAs, transposon silencing, and Drosophila germline development.

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  • 1Program in Cell and Developmental Dynamics, and Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


Transposons are prominent features of most eukaryotic genomes and mobilization of these elements triggers genetic instability. Transposon silencing is particularly critical in the germline, which maintains the heritable genetic complement. Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) have emerged as central players in transposon silencing and genome maintenance during germline development. In particular, research on Drosophila oogenesis has provided critical insights into piRNA biogenesis and transposon silencing. In this system, the ability to place piRNA mutant phenotypes within a well-defined developmental framework has been instrumental in elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying the connection between piRNAs and transposon control.

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