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Curr Biol. 2011 Aug 23;21(16):1373-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.057. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

piRNA production requires heterochromatin formation in Drosophila.

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1
Department of Cell Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine, Skirball Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.

Abstract

Protecting the genome from transposable element (TE) mobilization is critical for germline development. In Drosophila, Piwi proteins and their bound small RNAs (piRNAs) provide a potent defense against TE activity. TE targeting piRNAs are processed from TE-dense heterochromatic loci termed piRNA clusters. Although piRNA biogenesis from cluster precursors is beginning to be understood, little is known about piRNA cluster transcriptional regulation. Here, we show that deposition of histone 3 lysine 9 by the methyltransferase dSETDB1 (egg) is required for piRNA cluster transcription. In the absence of dSETDB1, cluster precursor transcription collapses in germline and somatic gonadal cells and TEs are activated, resulting in germline loss and a block in germline stem cell differentiation. We propose that heterochromatin protects the germline by activating the piRNA pathway.

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PMID:
21820311
PMCID:
PMC3205116
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.057
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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