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Dev Cell. 2015 Aug 24;34(4):457-65. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.07.009. Epub 2015 Aug 13.

piRNAs and piRNA-Dependent siRNAs Protect Conserved and Essential C. elegans Genes from Misrouting into the RNAi Pathway.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA; Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.
2
Department of Biology, Colorado State University, 1878 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA; Cell and Molecular Biology Program, Colorado State University, 1005 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.
3
Department of Biology, Colorado State University, 1878 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.
4
Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA; Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Electronic address: ruvkun@molbio.mgh.harvard.edu.
5
Department of Biology, Colorado State University, 1878 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA. Electronic address: tai.montgomery@colostate.edu.

Abstract

piRNAs silence foreign genes, such as transposons, to preserve genome integrity, but they also target endogenous mRNAs by mechanisms that are poorly understood. Caenorhabditis elegans piRNAs interact with both transposon and nontransposon mRNAs to initiate sustained silencing via the RNAi pathway. To assess the dysregulation of gene silencing caused by lack of piRNAs, we restored RNA silencing in RNAi-defective animals in the presence or absence of piRNAs. In the absence of piRNAs and a cellular memory of piRNA activity, essential and conserved genes are misrouted into the RNAi pathway to produce siRNAs that bind the nuclear Argonaute HRDE-1, resulting in dramatic defects in germ cell proliferation and function such that the animals are sterile. Inactivation of RNAi suppresses sterility, indicating that aberrant siRNAs produced in the absence of piRNAs target essential genes for silencing. Thus, by reanimating RNAi, we uncovered a role for piRNAs in protecting essential genes from RNA silencing.

PMID:
26279487
PMCID:
PMC4550515
DOI:
10.1016/j.devcel.2015.07.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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