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Genetics. 2010 Dec;186(4):1175-85. doi: 10.1534/genetics.110.122234. Epub 2010 Sep 13.

Profiling sex-specific piRNAs in zebrafish.

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Department of Genetics, Center for Developmental Biology, College of Life Science, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.


Piwi proteins and their partner small RNAs play an essential role in fertility, germ-line stem cell development, and the basic control and evolution of animal genomes. However, little knowledge exists regarding piRNA biogenesis. Utilizing microfluidic chip analysis, we present a quantitative profile of zebrafish piRNAs expressed differentially between testis and ovary. The sex-specific piRNAs are derived from separate loci of repeat elements in the genome. Ovarian piRNAs can be categorized into groups that reach up to 92 members, indicating a sex-specific arrangement of piRNA genes in the genome. Furthermore, precursor piRNAs preferentially form a hairpin structure at the 3'end, which seem to favor the generation of mature sex-specific piRNAs. In addition, the mature piRNAs from both the testis and the ovary are 2'-O-methylated at their 3' ends.

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