Mili and Miwi target RNA repertoire reveals piRNA biogenesis and function of Miwi in spermiogenesis.
ABSTRACT: Germ cells implement elaborate mechanisms to protect their genetic material and to regulate gene expression during differentiation. Piwi proteins bind Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), small germline RNAs whose biogenesis and functions are still largely elusive. We used high-throughput sequencing after cross-linking and immunoprecipitation (HITS-CLIP) coupled with RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) to characterize the genome-wide target RNA repertoire of Mili (Piwil2) and Miwi (Piwil1), two Piwi proteins expressed in mouse postnatal testis. We report the in vivo pathway of primary piRNA biogenesis and implicate distinct nucleolytic activities that process Piwi-bound precursor transcripts. Our studies indicate that pachytene piRNAs are the end products of RNA processing. HITS-CLIP demonstrated that Miwi binds spermiogenic mRNAs directly, without using piRNAs as guides, and independent biochemical analyses of testis mRNA ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) established that Miwi functions in the formation of mRNP complexes that stabilize mRNAs essential for spermiogenesis.
Project description:PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) engage PIWI proteins to silence transposons and promote germ cell development in animals. In diverse species, piRNA biogenesis occurs near the mitochondrial surface, and involves mitochondrial membrane-anchored factors. In mice, two cytoplasmic PIWI proteins, MIWI and MILI, receive processed pachytene piRNAs at intermitochodrial cement (IMC). However, how MIWI and MILI are initially recruited to the IMC to engage multiple steps of piRNA processing is unclear. Here, we show that mitochondria-anchored TDRKH controls multiple steps of pachytene piRNA biogenesis in mice. TDRKH specifically recruits MIWI, but not MILI, to engage the piRNA pathway. It is required for the production of the entire MIWI-bound piRNA population and enables trimming of MILI-bound piRNAs. The failure to recruit MIWI to the IMC with TDRKH deficiency results in loss of MIWI in the chromatoid body, leading to spermiogenic arrest and piRNA-independent retrotransposon LINE1 de-repression in round spermatids. Our findings identify a mitochondrial surface-based scaffolding mechanism separating the entry and actions of two critical PIWI proteins in the same piRNA pathway to drive piRNA biogenesis and germ cell development.
Project description:Germ cells employ elaborate mechanisms to maintain and protect their genetic material, and also to regulate gene expression during the complex differentiation process of gametogenesis. Piwi proteins, a subclade of the Argonaute family, are expressed mainly in the germline and bind piRNAs, a novel and diverse class of small RNAs whose biogenesis and putative functions are still largely elusive. We employed High Throughput Sequencing after Crosslinking and Immunoprecipitation (HITS-CLIP) coupled with RNA-Seq to characterize the genome-wide target RNA repertoire of Mili and Miwi, two mouse Piwi proteins. Our analysis outlines a model for primary piRNA biogenesis in postnatal mouse and indicates that piRNAs do not mediate target RNA recognition, but rather are the end products of RNA processing. Moreover, we identify a set of mRNAs essential for spermiogenesis that are bound and regulated by Miwi, directly implicating Piwi proteins in the control of gene expression at key time points of spermiogenesis. Overall design: Directional RNA-seq experiments of 5 time-points during mouse postnatal testis development
Project description:Germ cells employ elaborate mechanisms to maintain and protect their genetic material, and also to regulate gene expression during the complex differentiation process of gametogenesis. Piwi proteins, a subclade of the Argonaute family, are expressed mainly in the germline and bind piRNAs, a novel and diverse class of small RNAs whose biogenesis and putative functions are still largely elusive. We employed High Throughput Sequencing after Crosslinking and Immunoprecipitation (HITS-CLIP) coupled with RNA-Seq to characterize the genome-wide target RNA repertoire of Mili and Miwi, two mouse Piwi proteins. Our analysis outlines a model for primary piRNA biogenesis in postnatal mouse and indicates that piRNAs do not mediate target RNA recognition, but rather are the end products of RNA processing. Moreover, we identify a set of mRNAs essential for spermiogenesis that are bound and regulated by Miwi, directly implicating Piwi proteins in the control of gene expression at key time points of spermiogenesis. HITS-CLIP (High Throughput Sequencing after Crosslinking and Immunoprecipitation) experiments targeting two mouse Piwi proteins Mili and Miwi.
Project description:The mouse PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway produces a class of 26-30-nucleotide (nt) small RNAs and is essential for spermatogenesis and retrotransposon repression. In oocytes, however, its regulation and function are poorly understood. In the present study, we investigated the consequences of loss of piRNA-pathway components in growing oocytes. When MILI (or PIWIL2), a PIWI family member, was depleted by gene knockout, almost all piRNAs disappeared. This severe loss of piRNA was accompanied by an increase in transcripts derived from specific retrotransposons, especially IAPs. MIWI (or PIWIL1) depletion had a smaller effect. In oocytes lacking PLD6 (or ZUCCHINI or MITOPLD), a mitochondrial nuclease/phospholipase involved in piRNA biogenesis in male germ cells, the piRNA level was decreased to 50% compared to wild-type, a phenotype much milder than that in males. Since PLD6 is essential for the creation of the 5? ends of primary piRNAs in males, the presence of mature piRNA in PLD6-depleted oocytes suggests the presence of compensating enzymes. Furthermore, we identified novel 21-23-nt small RNAs, termed spiRNAs, possessing a 10-nt complementarity with piRNAs, which were produced dependent on MILI and independent of DICER. Our study revealed the differences in the biogenesis and function of the piRNA pathway between sexes.
Project description:The piRNA machinery is known for its role in mediating epigenetic silencing of transposons. Recent studies suggest that this function also involves piRNA-guided cleavage of transposon-derived transcripts. As many piRNAs also appear to have the capacity to target diverse mRNAs, this raises the intriguing possibility that piRNAs may act extensively as siRNAs to degrade specific mRNAs. To directly test this hypothesis, we compared mouse PIWI (MIWI)-associated piRNAs with experimentally identified cleaved mRNA fragments from mouse testes, and observed cleavage sites that predominantly occur at position 10 from the 5' end of putative targeting piRNAs. We also noted strong biases for U and A residues at nucleotide positions 1 and 10, respectively, in both piRNAs and mRNA fragments, features that resemble the pattern of piRNA amplification by the 'ping-pong' cycle. Through mapping of MIWI-RNA interactions by CLIP-seq and gene expression profiling, we found that many potential piRNA-targeted mRNAs directly interact with MIWI and show elevated expression levels in the testes of Miwi catalytic mutant mice. Reporter-based assays further revealed the importance of base pairing between piRNAs and mRNA targets and the requirement for both the slicer activity and piRNA-loading ability of MIWI in piRNA-mediated target repression. Importantly, we demonstrated that proper turnover of certain key piRNA targets is essential for sperm formation. Together, these findings reveal the siRNA-like function of the piRNA machinery in mouse testes and its central requirement for male germ cell development and maturation.
Project description:piRNAs, a class of small non-coding RNAs associated with PIWI proteins, have broad functions in germline development, transposon silencing, and epigenetic regulation. In diverse organisms, a subset of piRNAs derived from repeat sequences are produced via the interplay between two PIWI proteins. This mechanism, termed "ping-pong" cycle, operates among the PIWI proteins of the primordial mouse testis; however, its involvement in postnatal testes remains elusive. Here we show that adult testicular piRNAs are produced independent of the ping-pong mechanism. We identified and characterized large populations of piRNAs in the adult and postnatal developing testes associated with MILI and MIWI, the only PIWI proteins detectable in these testes. No interaction between MILI and MIWI or sequence feature for the ping-pong mechanism among their piRNAs was detected in the adult testis. The majority of MILI- and MIWI-associated piRNAs originate from the same DNA strands within the same loci. Both populations of piRNAs are biased for 5' Uracil but not for Adenine on the 10th nucleotide position, and display no complementarity. Furthermore, in Miwi mutants, MILI-associated piRNAs are not downregulated, but instead upregulated. These results indicate that the adult testicular piRNAs are predominantly, if not exclusively, produced by a primary processing mechanism instead of the ping-pong mechanism. In this primary pathway, biogenesis of MILI- and MIWI-associated piRNAs may compete for the same precursors; the types of piRNAs produced tend to be non-selectively dictated by the available precursors in the cell; and precursors with introns tend to be spliced before processed into piRNAs.
Project description:PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that bind PIWI family proteins exclusively expressed in the germ cells of mammalian gonads. MIWI2-associated piRNAs are essential for silencing transposons during primordial germ cell development, and MIWI-bound piRNAs are required for normal spermatogenesis during adulthood in mice. Although piRNAs have long been regarded as germ cell-specific, increasing lines of evidence suggest that somatic cells also express piRNA-like RNAs (pilRNAs). Here, we report the detection of abundant pilRNAs in somatic cells, which are similar to MIWI-associated piRNAs mainly expressed in pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids in the testis. Based on small RNA deep sequencing and quantitative PCR analyses, pilRNA expression is dynamic and displays tissue specificity. Although pilRNAs are similar to pachytene piRNAs in both size and genomic origins, they have a distinct ping-pong signature. Furthermore, pilRNA biogenesis appears to utilize a yet to be identified pathway, which is different from all currently known small RNA biogenetic pathways. In addition, pilRNAs appear to preferentially target the 3'-UTRs of mRNAs in a partially complementary manner. Our data suggest that pilRNAs, as an integral component of the small RNA transcriptome in somatic cell lineages, represent a distinct population of small RNAs that may have functions similar to germ cell piRNAs.
Project description:PIWI proteins and piRNAs have been linked to transposon silencing in the primordial mouse testis, but their function in the adult testis remains elusive. Here we report the cytological characterization of piRNAs in the adult mouse testis and the phenotypic analysis of Miwi(-/-); Mili(-/-) mice. We show that piRNAs are specifically present in germ cells, especially abundant in spermatocytes and early round spermatids, regardless of the type of the genomic sequences to which they correspond. piRNAs and PIWI proteins are present in both the cytoplasm and nucleus. In the cytoplasm, they are enriched in the chromatoid body; whereas in the nucleus they are enriched in the dense body, a male-specific organelle associated with synapsis and the formation of the XY body during meiosis. Moreover, by generating Miwi(-/-); Mili(-/-) mice, which lack all PIWI proteins in the adult, we show that PIWI proteins and presumably piRNAs in the adult are required only for spermatogenesis. Spermatocytes without PIWI proteins are arrested at the pachytene stage, when the sex chromosomes undergo transcriptional silencing to form the XY body. These results pinpoint a function of the PIWI protein subfamily to meiosis during spermatogenesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Piwi interacting RNA, or piRNA, is a class of small RNA almost exclusively expressed in the germline where they serve essential roles in retrotransposon silencing. There are two types, primary and secondary piRNA, and the latter is a product of enzymatic cleavage of retrotransposons' transcripts directed by the former. Recently, a new class of 19nt long RNA was discovered that is specific to testis and appears to be linked to secondary piRNA biogenesis. RESULTS: We locate clusters of the testis-specific 19mers, which we call piRNA-related 19mers (pr19RNA), and characterise the transcripts from which they are derived. Most pr19RNA clusters were associated with retrotransposons and unannotated antisense transcripts overlapping piRNA clusters. At these loci the abundance of 19mers was found to be greater than that of secondary piRNAs. CONCLUSION: We find that pr19RNAs are distinguished from other RNA populations by their length and flanking sequence, allowing their identification without requiring overlapping piRNAs. Using such sequence features allows identification of the source transcripts, and we suggest that these likely represent the substrates of primary piRNA-guided RNA cleavage events. While pr19RNAs appear not to bind directly to Miwi or Mili, their abundance relative to secondary piRNAs, in combination with their precise length, suggests they may be more than by-products of secondary piRNA biogenesis.
Project description:Small RNAs mediate gene silencing by binding Argonaute/Piwi proteins to regulate target RNAs. Here we describe small RNA profiling of the adult testes of Callithrix jacchus, the common marmoset. The most abundant class of small RNAs in the adult testis was piRNAs, while 353 novel miRNAs but few endo-siRNAs were also identified. MARWI, a marmoset homolog of mouse MIWI and a very abundant PIWI in adult testes, associates with piRNAs that show characteristics of mouse pachytene piRNAs. As in other mammals, most marmoset piRNAs are derived from conserved clustered regions in the genome, which are annotated as intergenic regions. However, some of these piRNA cluster regions contain antisense-orientated pseudogenes, suggesting regulation of parental functional protein-coding genes. More piRNAs map to transposable element (TE) subfamilies when they have copies in piRNA clusters. In addition, the strand-bias observed for piRNAs mapped to each TE subfamily correlates with the polarity of copies inserted in clusters. These findings suggest that pachytene piRNA clusters determine the abundance and strand-bias of TE-derived piRNAs, and also regulate protein-coding genes via pseudogene-derived piRNAs. small RNA levels in the adult marmoset testis, and MARWI-IP small RNA levels and RNA levels from the adult marmoset testis with two replicates.