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In germ cells, Piwi proteins interact with a specific class of small non-coding RNAs, piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). Together, these form a pathway that represses transposable elements, thus safeguarding germ cell genomes. While basic models describe the operation of piRNA pathways, neither the protein compositions of Piwi complexes, the critical protein-protein interactions that drive small RNA production and target recognition, or the precise molecular consequences of conserved localization to germline structures, call nuage, is well understood. We purified the three murine Piwi family proteins, Mili, Miwi, and Miwi2, from mouse germ cells and characterized their interacting protein partners. Piwi proteins were found in complex with Prmt5/Wdr77, an enzyme that di-methylates arginine residues. By immunoprecipitation with specific antibodies and by mass spectrometry, we found that Piwi proteins are arginine methylated at conserved positions in their amino termini. These modifications are essential to direct complex formation with specific Tudor-domain proteins, whose interactions with Piwis can be required for localization of RNP complexes in cytoplasmic nuage, proper piRNA expression, and transposon silencing. Considered together, our findings indicate that arginine methylation drives the assembly of multi-protein machines whose integrity and specific sub-cellular localization is necessary for efficient function of the piRNA pathway. Keywords: gene regulation study Total small RNA in embryonic and post-birth mouse testes of tdrd1 and tdrd6 mutants

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