A distinct small RNA pathway silences selfish genetic elements in the germline.
ABSTRACT In the Drosophila germline, repeat-associated small interfering RNAs (rasiRNAs) ensure genomic stability by silencing endogenous selfish genetic elements such as retrotransposons and repetitive sequences. Whereas small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) derive from both the sense and antisense strands of their double-stranded RNA precursors, rasiRNAs arise mainly from the antisense strand. rasiRNA production appears not to require Dicer-1, which makes microRNAs (miRNAs), or Dicer-2, which makes siRNAs, and rasiRNAs lack the 2',3' hydroxy termini characteristic of animal siRNA and miRNA. Unlike siRNAs and miRNAs, rasiRNAs function through the Piwi, rather than the Ago, Argonaute protein subfamily. Our data suggest that rasiRNAs protect the fly germline through a silencing mechanism distinct from both the miRNA and RNA interference pathways.
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ABSTRACT: In germ cells, PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) arise primarily from long noncoding RNAs transcribed from piRNA clusters through primary piRNA processing and are amplified through the ping-pong cycle, enabling a continuous, substantial supply of piRNA to cells (Pillai and Chuma, 2012, Senti and Brennecke, 2010 and Siomi et al., 2011). The majority of piRNAs are highly complementary to transposon transcripts and therefore act as antisense oligos to silence them. piRNAs do not possess any enzymatic activities for silencing but rather form piRNA-induced silencing complexes (piRISCs) with PIWI proteins. Many PIWI members have Slicer (endonuclease) activity with which they cleave target RNAs. Other PIWI members lack Slicer activity and so collaborate with cofactors to accomplish the gene silencing. However, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown.Cell Reports 12/2014; 31(2). · 7.21 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Abstract The W chromosome of the silkworm Bombyx mori has been known to determine femaleness for more than 80 years. However, the feminizing gene has not been molecularly identified, because the B. mori W chromosome is almost fully occupied by a large number of transposable elements. The W chromosome-derived feminizing factor of B. mori was recently shown to be a female-specific PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA). piRNAs are small RNAs that potentially repress invading "non-self" elements (e.g., transposons and virus-like elements) by associating with PIWI proteins. Our results revealed that female-specific piRNA precursors, which we named Fem, are transcribed from the sex-determining region of the W chromosome at the early embryonic stage and are processed into a single mature piRNA (Fem piRNA). Fem piRNA forms a complex with Siwi (silkworm Piwi), which cleaves a protein-coding mRNA transcribed from the Z chromosome. RNA interference of this Z-linked gene, which we named Masc, revealed that this gene encodes a protein required for masculinization and dosage compensation. Fem and Masc both participate in the ping-pong cycle of the piRNA amplification loop by associating with the two B. mori PIWI proteins Siwi and BmAgo3 (silkworm Ago3), respectively, indicating that the piRNA-mediated interaction between the two sex chromosomes is the primary signal for the B. mori sex determination cascade. Fem is a non-transposable repetitive sequence on the W chromosome, whereas Masc is a single-copy protein-coding gene. It is of great interest how the piRNA system recognizes "self "Masc mRNA as "non-self" RNA.RNA biology. 01/2015;
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ABSTRACT: The African sweetpotato weevil (SPW) Cylas puncticollis Boheman is one of the most important constraints of sweetpotato production in Sub-Saharan Africa and yet is largely an uncharacterized insect pest. Here, we report on the transcriptome analysis of SPW generated using an Illumina platform. More than 213 million sequencing reads were obtained and assembled into 89,599 contigs. This assembly was followed by a gene ontology annotation. Subsequently, a transcriptome search showed that the necessary RNAi components relevant to the three major RNAi pathways, were found to be expressed in SPW. To address the functionality of the RNAi mechanism in this species, dsRNA was injected into second instar larvae targeting laccase2, a gene which encodes an enzyme involved in the sclerotization of insect exoskeleton. The body of treated insects showed inhibition of sclerotization, leading eventually to death. Quantitative Real Time PCR (qPCR) confirmed this phenotype to be the result of gene silencing. Together, our results provide valuable sequence data on this important insect pest and demonstrate that a functional RNAi pathway with a strong and systemic effect is present in SPW and can further be explored as a new strategy for controlling this important pest.PLoS ONE 01/2015; 10(1):e0115336. · 3.53 Impact Factor