An epigenetic role for maternally inherited piRNAs in transposon silencing.
ABSTRACT In plants and mammals, small RNAs indirectly mediate epigenetic inheritance by specifying cytosine methylation. We found that small RNAs themselves serve as vectors for epigenetic information. Crosses between Drosophila strains that differ in the presence of a particular transposon can produce sterile progeny, a phenomenon called hybrid dysgenesis. This phenotype manifests itself only if the transposon is paternally inherited, suggesting maternal transmission of a factor that maintains fertility. In both P- and I-element-mediated hybrid dysgenesis models, daughters show a markedly different content of Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) targeting each element, depending on their parents of origin. Such differences persist from fertilization through adulthood. This indicates that maternally deposited piRNAs are important for mounting an effective silencing response and that a lack of maternal piRNA inheritance underlies hybrid dysgenesis.
SourceAvailable from: David CárdenasBiochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms 04/2014; · 5.44 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are a class of small RNAs that are 24-31 nucleotides in length. They associate with PIWI proteins, which constitute a germline-specific subclade of the Argonaute family, to form effector complexes known as piRNA-induced silencing complexes, which repress transposons via transcriptional or posttranscriptional mechanisms and maintain germline genome integrity. In addition to having a role in transposon silencing, piRNAs in diverse organisms function in the regulation of cellular genes. In some cases, piRNAs have shown transgenerational inheritance to pass on the memory of "self " and "nonself," suggesting a contribution to various cellular processes over generations. Many piRNA factors have been identified; however, both the molecular mechanisms leading to the production of mature piRNAs and the effector phases of gene silencing are still enigmatic. Here, we summarize the current state of our knowledge on the biogenesis of piRNA, its biological functions, and the underlying mechanisms. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biochemistry Volume 84 is June 02, 2015. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.