Piwi-interacting RNAs and PIWI genes as novel prognostic markers for breast cancer.
ABSTRACT: Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), whose role in germline maintenance has been established, are now also being classified as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression in somatic cells. PIWI proteins, central to piRNA biogenesis, have been identified as genetic and epigenetic regulators of gene expression. piRNAs/PIWIs have emerged as potential biomarkers for cancer but their relevance to breast cancer has not been comprehensively studied. piRNAs and mRNAs were profiled from normal and breast tumor tissues using next generation sequencing and Agilent platforms, respectively. Gene targets for differentially expressed piRNAs were identified from mRNA expression dataset. piRNAs and PIWI genes were independently assessed for their prognostic significance (outcomes: Overall Survival, OS and Recurrence Free Survival, RFS). We discovered eight piRNAs as novel independent prognostic markers and their association with OS was confirmed in an external dataset (The Cancer Genome Atlas). Further, PIWIL3 and PIWIL4 genes showed prognostic relevance. 306 gene targets exhibited reciprocal relationship with piRNA expression. Cancer cell pathways such as apoptosis and cell signaling were the key Gene Ontology terms associated with the regulated gene targets. Overall, we have captured the entire cascade of events in a dysregulated piRNA pathway and have identified novel markers for breast cancer prognostication.
Project description:The role of the Piwi/piRNA pathway during mammalian oogenesis has remained enigmatic thus far, especially since experiments with Piwi knockout mice did not reveal any phenotypic defects in female individuals. This is in striking contrast with results obtained from other species including flies and zebrafish. In mouse oocytes, however, only low levels of piRNAs are found and they are not required for their function. We recently demonstrated dynamic expression of PIWIL1, PIWIL2, and PIWIL3 during mammalian oogenesis and early embryogenesis. In addition, small RNA analysis of human, crab-eating macaque and cattle revealed that piRNAs are also expressed in the female germline and closely resemble piRNAs from testis. Here, we thoroughly describe the experimental and computational methods that we applied for the generation, processing and analyses of next generation sequencing (NGS) data associated with our study on Piwi proteins and piRNAs in mammalian oocytes and embryos (Roovers et al., 2015). The complete sequence data is available at NCBI's Gene Expression Omnibus (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/) under the accession GSE64942.
Project description: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
Project description:PIWI-interacting small non-coding RNAs (piRNAs) are genetic and epigenetic regulatory factors in germline cells, where they maintain genome stability, are involved in RNA silencing and regulate gene expression. We found that the piRNA biogenesis and effector pathway are present in human breast cancer (BC) cells and, analyzing smallRNA-Seq data generated from BC cell lines and tumor biopsies, we identified >100 BC piRNAs, including some very abundant and/or differentially expressed in mammary epithelial compared to BC cells, where this was influenced by estrogen or estrogen receptor ?, and in cancer respect to normal breast tissues. A search for mRNAs targeted by the BC piRNome revealed that eight piRNAs showing a specific expression pattern in breast tumors target key cancer cell pathways. Evidence of an active piRNA pathway in BC suggests that these small non-coding RNAs do exert transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene regulatory actions also in cancer cells.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Breast cancer is one of the most common malignancies and the major cause of cancer-related death in women. Although the importance of PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) in cancer has been increasingly recognized, few studies have been explored the functional mechanism of piRNAs in breast cancer development and progression. METHODS:We examined the top 20 highly expressed piRNAs based on the analysis of TCGA breast cancer data in two patient cohorts to test the roles of piRNAs in breast cancer. The effects of piRNA-36,712 on the malignant phenotypes and chemosensitivity of breast cancer cells were detected in vitro and in vivo. MS2-RIP and reporter gene assays were conducted to identify the interaction and regulation among piRNA-36,712, miRNAs and SEPW1P. Kaplan-Meier estimate with log-rank test was used to compare patient survival by different piRNA-36,712 expression levels. RESULTS:We found piRNA-36,712 level was significantly lower in breast cancer than in normal breast tissues and low level was correlated with poor clinical outcome in patients. Functional studies demonstrated that piRNA-36,712 interacts with RNAs produced by SEPW1P, a retroprocessed pseudogene of SEPW1, and subsequently inhibits SEPW1 expression through competition of SEPW1 mRNA with SEPW1P RNA for microRNA-7 and microRNA-324. We also found that higher SEPW1 expression due to downregulation of piRNA-36,712 in breast cancer may suppress P53, leading to the upregulated Slug but decreased P21 and E-cadherin levels, thus promoting cancer cell proliferation, invasion and migration. Furthermore, we found that piRNA-36,712 had synergistic anticancer effects with the paclitaxel and doxorubicin, two chemotherapeutic agents for breast cancer. CONCLUSIONS:These findings suggest that piRNA-36,712 is a novel tumor suppressor and may serve as a potential predictor for the prognosis of breast cancer patients.
Project description:Although Piwi proteins and Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) genetically repress transposable elements (TEs), it is unclear how the highly diverse piRNA populations direct Piwi proteins to silence TE targets without silencing the entire transcriptome. To determine the capacity of piRNA-mediated silencing, we introduced reporter genes into Drosophila OSS cells, which express microRNAs (miRNAs) and piRNAs, and compared the Piwi pathway to the Argonaute pathway in gene regulation. Reporter constructs containing several target sites that were robustly silenced by miRNAs were not silenced to the same degrees by piRNAs. However, another set of reporters we designed to enable a large number of both TE-directed and genic piRNAs to bind were robustly silenced by the PIWI/piRNA complex in OSS cells. These reporters show that a bulk of piRNAs are required to pair to the reporter's transcripts and not the reporter's DNA sequence to engage PIWI-mediated silencing. Following our genome-wide study of PIWI-regulated targets in OSS cells, we assessed candidate gene elements with our reporter platform. These results suggest TE sequences are the most direct of PIWI regulatory targets while coding genes are less directly affected by PIWI targeting. Finally, our study suggests that the PIWI transcriptional silencing mechanism triggers robust chromatin changes on targets with sufficient piRNA binding, and preferentially regulates TE transcripts because protein-coding transcripts lack a threshold of targeting by piRNA populations. This reporter platform will facilitate future dissections of the PIWI-targeting mechanism.
Project description:Small RNAs have important functions. However, small RNAs in primate oocytes remain unexplored. Herein, we develop CAS-seq, a single-cell small RNA sequencing method, and profile the small RNAs in human oocytes and embryos. We discover a class of ~20-nt small RNAs that are predominantly expressed in human and monkey oocytes, but not in mouse oocytes. They are specifically associated with HIWI3 (PIWIL3), whereas significantly shorter than the commonly known PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), designated as oocyte short piRNAs (os-piRNAs). Notably, the os-piRNAs in human oocytes lack 2'-O-methylation at the 3' end, a hallmark of the classic piRNAs. In addition, the os-piRNAs have a strong 1U/10?A bias and are enriched on the antisense strands of recently evolved transposable elements (TEs), indicating the potential function of silencing TEs by cleavage. Therefore, our study has identified an oocyte-specific piRNA family with distinct features and provides valuable resources for studying small RNAs in primate oocytes.
Project description:In animals, PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) guide PIWI proteins to silence transposons and regulate gene expression. The mechanisms for making piRNAs have been proposed to differ among cell types, tissues, and animals. Our data instead suggest a single model that explains piRNA production in most animals. piRNAs initiate piRNA production by guiding PIWI proteins to slice precursor transcripts. Next, PIWI proteins direct the stepwise fragmentation of the sliced precursor transcripts, yielding tail-to-head strings of phased precursor piRNAs (pre-piRNAs). Our analyses detect evidence for this piRNA biogenesis strategy across an evolutionarily broad range of animals, including humans. Thus, PIWI proteins initiate and sustain piRNA biogenesis by the same mechanism in species whose last common ancestor predates the branching of most animal lineages. The unified model places PIWI-clade Argonautes at the center of piRNA biology and suggests that the ancestral animal-the Urmetazoan-used PIWI proteins both to generate piRNA guides and to execute piRNA function.
Project description:Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) guide Piwi Argonautes to suppress transposon activity in animal gonads. Known piRNA populations are extremely complex, with millions of individual sequences present in a single organism. Despite this complexity, specific Piwi proteins incorporate piRNAs with distinct nucleotide- and transposon strand-biases (antisense or sense) of unknown origin. Here, we examined the contribution of structural domains in Piwi proteins toward defining these biases. We report the first crystal structure of the MID domain from a Piwi Argonaute and use docking experiments to show its ability to specify recognition of 5' uridine (1U-bias) of piRNAs. Mutational analyses reveal the importance of 5' end-recognition within the MID domain for piRNA biogenesis in vivo. Finally, domain-swapping experiments uncover an unexpected role for the MID-PIWI module of a Piwi protein in dictating the transposon strand-orientation of its bound piRNAs. Our work identifies structural features that allow distinguishing individual Piwi members during piRNA biogenesis.
Project description:PIWI proteins and piRNA pathways are essential for transposon silencing and some aspects of gene regulation during animal germline development. In contrast to most animal species, some flatworms also express PIWIs and piRNAs in somatic stem cells, where they are required for tissue renewal and regeneration. Here, we have identified and characterized piRNAs and PIWI proteins in the emerging model flatworm Macrostomum lignano. We found that M. lignano encodes at least three PIWI proteins. One of these, Macpiwi1, acts as a key component of the canonical piRNA pathway in the germline and in somatic stem cells. Knockdown of Macpiwi1 dramatically reduces piRNA levels, derepresses transposons, and severely impacts stem cell maintenance. Knockdown of the piRNA biogenesis factor Macvasa caused an even greater reduction in piRNA levels with a corresponding increase in transposons. Yet, in Macvasa knockdown animals, we detected no major impact on stem cell self-renewal. These results may suggest stem cell maintenance functions of PIWI proteins in flatworms that are distinguishable from their impact on transposons and that might function independently of what are considered canonical piRNA populations.
Project description:Piwi interacting RNAs (piRNAs) constitute novel small non-coding RNA molecules of approximately 24-31 nucleotides in length that often bind to members of the piwi protein family to play regulatory roles. Recently, emerging evidence suggests that in addition to the mammalian germline, piRNAs are also expressed in a tissue-specific manner in a variety of human tissues and modulate key signaling pathways at the transcriptional or post-transcriptional level. In addition, a growing number of studies have shown that piRNA and PIWI proteins, which are abnormally expressed in various cancers, may serve as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for tumor diagnostics and treatment. However, the functions of piRNAs in cancer and their underlying mechanisms remain incompletely understood. In this review, we discuss current findings regarding piRNA biogenetic processes, functions, and emerging roles in cancer, providing new insights regarding the potential applications of piRNAs and piwi proteins in cancer diagnosis and clinical treatment.