Deficiency of MIWI2 (Piwil4) induces mouse erythroleukemia cell differentiation, but has no effect on hematopoiesis in vivo.
ABSTRACT: Piwi proteins and their small non-coding RNA partners are involved in the maintenance of stem cell character and genome integrity in the male germ cells of mammals. MIWI2, one of the mouse Piwi-like proteins, is expressed in the prepachytene phase of spermatogenesis during the period of de novo methylation. Absence of this protein leads to meiotic defects and a progressive loss of germ cells. There is an accumulation of evidence that Piwi proteins may be active in hematopoietic tissues. Thus, MIWI2 may have a role in hematopoietic stem and/or progenitor cell self-renewal and differentiation, and defects in MIWI2 may lead to abnormal hematopoiesis. MIWI2 mRNA can be detected in a mouse erythroblast cell line by RNA-seq, and shRNA-mediated knockdown of this mRNA causes the cells to take on characteristics of differentiated erythroid precursors. However, there are no detectable hematopoietic abnormalities in a MIWI2-deficient mouse model. While subtle, non-statistically significant changes were noted in the hematopoietic function of mice without a functional MIWI2 gene when compared to wild type mice, our results show that MIWI2 is not solely necessary for hematopoiesis within the normal life span of a mouse.
Project description:Silencing of transposable elements occurs during fetal gametogenesis in males via de novo DNA methylation of their regulatory regions. The loss of MILI (miwi-like) and MIWI2 (mouse piwi 2), two mouse homologs of Drosophila Piwi, activates retrotransposon gene expression by impairing DNA methylation in the regulatory regions of the retrotransposons. However, as it is unclear whether the defective DNA methylation in the mutants is due to the impairment of de novo DNA methylation, we analyze DNA methylation and Piwi-interacting small RNA (piRNA) expression in wild-type, MILI-null, and MIWI2-null male fetal germ cells. We reveal that defective DNA methylation of the regulatory regions of the Line-1 (long interspersed nuclear elements) and IAP (intracisternal A particle) retrotransposons in the MILI-null and MIWI2-null male germ cells takes place at the level of de novo methylation. Comprehensive analysis shows that the piRNAs of fetal germ cells are distinct from those previously identified in neonatal and adult germ cells. The expression of piRNAs is reduced under MILI- and MIWI2-null conditions in fetal germ cells, although the extent of the reduction differs significantly between the two mutants. Our data strongly suggest that MILI and MIWI2 play essential roles in establishing de novo DNA methylation of retrotransposons in fetal male germ cells.
Project description:The PIWI-piRNA pathway serves as a critical defense mechanism through which the genome of the male germline is protected from invasion by transposable elements (TEs). MIWI2/PIWIL4, a member of the murine PIWI subclade of the Argonaute family, has been shown to be expressed in primordial germ cells (PGCs) and prospermatogonia in fetal and prepubertal testes. Global inactivation of Miwi2 leads to male sterility due to an early meiotic arrest, which correlates with retrotransposon desuppression. However, it remains unclear whether MIWI2 functions beyond the PGC stage and whether MIWI2 has a role beyond TE suppression during male germ line development. Through conditional inactivation of Miwi2, we demonstrate herein that MIWI2 function is restricted to a narrow time window during male PGC reprograming and that Miwi2 is dispensable for postnatal male germline development and testicular function in mice. Moreover, persistent activation of LINE1 and IAP retrotransposons caused by Miwi2 inactivation is compatible with mitotic cell cycle progression of spermatogonia during the first wave of spermatogenesis, but can cause zygotene to pachytene arrest in early meiosis due to multiple defects including enhanced DNA double-strand breaks, aberrant histone modifications and altered mRNA transcriptome. Our data not only validate those from global Miwi2 KO studies, but also suggest that MIWI2 and MIWI2-associated piRNAs have functions beyond TE suppression.
Project description:In developing male germ cells, prospermatogonia, two Piwi proteins, MILI and MIWI2, use Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) guides to repress transposable element (TE) expression and ensure genome stability and proper gametogenesis. In addition to their roles in post-transcriptional TE repression, both proteins are required for DNA methylation of TE sequences. Here, we analyzed the effect of Miwi2 deficiency on piRNA biogenesis and transposon repression. Miwi2 deficiency had only a minor impact on piRNA biogenesis; however, the piRNA profile of Miwi2-knockout mice indicated overexpression of several LINE1 TE families that led to activation of the ping-pong piRNA cycle. Furthermore, we found that MILI and MIWI2 have distinct functions in TE repression in the nucleus. MILI is responsible for DNA methylation of a larger subset of TE families than MIWI2 is, suggesting that the proteins have independent roles in establishing DNA methylation patterns.
Project description:Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) must engage in a life-long balance between self-renewal and differentiation to sustain hematopoiesis. The highly conserved PIWI protein family regulates proliferative states of stem cells and their progeny in diverse organisms. A Human piwi gene (for clarity, the non-italicized "piwi" refers to the gene subfamily), HIWI (PIWIL1), is expressed in CD34? stem/progenitor cells and transient expression of HIWI in a human leukemia cell line drastically reduces cell proliferation, implying the potential function of these proteins in hematopoiesis. Here, we report that one of the three piwi genes in mice, Miwi2 (Piwil4), is expressed in primitive hematopoetic cell types within the bone marrow. Mice with a global deletion of all three piwi genes, Miwi, Mili, and Miwi2, are able to maintain long-term hematopoiesis with no observable effect on the homeostatic HSC compartment in adult mice. The PIWI-deficient hematopoetic cells are capable of normal lineage reconstitution after competitive transplantation. We further show that the three piwi genes are dispensable during hematopoietic recovery after myeloablative stress by 5-FU. Collectively, our data suggest that the function of the piwi gene subfamily is not required for normal adult hematopoiesis.
Project description:Remodeling of the gene regulatory network in cells is believed to be a prerequisite for their lineage reprogramming. However, its key regulatory factors are not yet elucidated. In this article, we investigate the role of PIWI proteins and provide evidence that one of them, MIWI2, is elicited during transdifferentiation of fibroblasts into hepatocyte-like cells. In coincidence with the peak expression of MIWI2, we identified the appearance of a unique intermediate epigenetic state characterized by a specific Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) profile consisting of 219 novel sequences. Knockout of MIWI2 greatly improved the formation of the induced hepatocytes, whereas overexpression of exogenous MIWI2 completely abolished the stimulated effect. A bioinformatics analysis of piRNA interaction network, followed by experimental validation, revealed the Notch signaling pathway as one of the immediate effectors of MIWI2. Altogether, our results show for the first time that temporal expression of MIWI2 contributes negatively to cell plasticity not only in germline, but also in developed cells, such as mouse fibroblasts. Stem Cells 2019;37:803-812.
Project description:P-element-induced wimpy testes (Piwi) proteins are known for suppressing retrotransposon activation in the mammalian germline. However, whether Piwi protein or Piwi-dependent functions occur in the mammalian soma is unclear. Contrary to germline-restricted expression, we observed that Piwi-like Miwi2 mRNA is indeed expressed in epithelial cells of the lung in adult mice and that it is induced during pneumonia. Further investigation revealed that MIWI2 protein localized to the cytoplasm of a discrete population of multiciliated airway epithelial cells. Isolation and next-generation sequencing of MIWI2-positive multiciliated cells revealed that they are phenotypically distinct from neighboring MIWI2-negative multiciliated cells. Mice lacking MIWI2 exhibited an altered balance of airway epithelial cells, demonstrating fewer multiciliated cells and an increase in club cells. During pneumococcal pneumonia, Miwi2-deficient mice exhibited increased expression of inflammatory mediators and increased immune cell recruitment, leading to enhanced bacterial clearance. Taken together, our data delineate MIWI2-dependent functions outside of the germline and demonstrate the presence of distinct subsets of airway multiciliated cells that can be discriminated by MIWI2 expression. By demonstrating roles for MIWI2 in airway cell identity and pulmonary innate immunity, these studies elucidate unanticipated physiological functions for Piwi proteins in somatic tissues.
Project description:In developing male germ cells, prospermatogonia, two Piwi proteins, MILI and MIWI2, use piRNA guides to repress transposable element (TE) expression and ensure genome stability and proper gametogenesis. In addition to their roles in post-transcriptional TE repression, both proteins are required for DNA methylation of TE sequences. Here we analyzed the effect of Miwi2 deficiency on piRNA biogenesis and transposon repression. Miwi2-deficiency had only a minor impact on piRNA biogenesis; however, the piRNA profile of Miwi2-knockout mice indicated overexpression of several LINE1 TE families that led to activation of the ping-pong piRNA cycle. Furthermore, we found that MILI and MIWI2 have distinct functions in TE repression in the nucleus. MILI is responsible for DNA methylation of a larger subset of TE families than MIWI2 suggesting that the proteins have independent roles in establishing DNA methylation patterns. Small RNA profiles (19-30 nt range) of embryonic (E16.5) and post-natal (P10) testis of Miwi2 mutant mice and matched heterozygote controls. mRNA profiles of embryonic testis (E16.5) of heterozygote control mice and of postnatal testis (P10) of Miwi2 and Mili mutants and heterozygote controls. CpG methylation BS-seq profile of postnatal (P10) spermatocytes of Miwi2 mutant mice and matched heterozygote controls.
Project description:The PIWI protein MIWI2 and its associated PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) instruct DNA methylation of young active transposable elements (TEs) in the male germline. piRNAs are proposed to recruit MIWI2 to the transcriptionally active TE loci by base pairing to nascent transcripts, however the downstream mechanisms and effector proteins utilized by MIWI2 in directing de novo TE methylation remain incompletely understood. Here, we show that MIWI2 associates with TEX15 in foetal gonocytes. TEX15 is predominantly a nuclear protein that is not required for piRNA biogenesis but is essential for piRNA-directed TE de novo methylation and silencing. In summary, TEX15 is an essential executor of mammalian piRNA-directed DNA methylation.
Project description:VASA is an evolutionarily conserved RNA helicase essential for germ cell development. The mouse PIWI family proteins MILI and MIWI2 are involved in production of Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) in fetal male germ cells through a ping-pong amplification cycle. Expression of retrotransposons is elevated in MILI- and MIWI2-deficient male germ cells due to defective de novo DNA methylation, which is presumably caused by impaired piRNA expression. Here, we report that essentially the same abnormalities are observed in MVH (mouse VASA homolog)-deficient mice. Comprehensive analysis of piRNAs in MVH-deficient fetal male germ cells showed that MVH plays crucial roles in the early phase of the ping-pong amplification cycle.
Project description:Argonaute/Piwi proteins can regulate gene expression via RNA degradation and translational regulation using small RNAs as guides. They also promote the establishment of suppressive epigenetic marks on repeat sequences in diverse organisms. In mice, the nuclear Piwi protein MIWI2 and Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are required for DNA methylation of retrotransposon sequences and some other sequences. However, its underlying molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we show that piRNA-dependent regions are transcribed at the stage when piRNA-mediated DNA methylation takes place. MIWI2 specifically interacts with RNAs from these regions. In addition, we generated mice with deletion of a retrotransposon sequence either in a representative piRNA-dependent region or in a piRNA cluster. Both deleted regions were required for the establishment of DNA methylation of the piRNA-dependent region, indicating that piRNAs determine the target specificity of MIWI2-mediated DNA methylation. Our results indicate that MIWI2 affects the chromatin state through base-pairing between piRNAs and nascent RNAs, as observed in other organisms possessing small RNA-mediated epigenetic regulation.