Two Piwis with Ago-like functions silence somatic genes at the chromatin level

Franziska Drews, Sivarajan Karunanithi, Ulrike Götz, Simone Marker, Raphael deWijn, Marcello Pirritano, Angela M. Rodrigues-Viana, Martin Jung, Gilles Gasparoni, Marcel H. Schulz, Martin Simon
Most sRNA biogenesis mechanisms involve either RNAse III cleavage or ping-pong amplification by different Piwi proteins harbouring slicer activity. Here, we follow the question why the mechanism of transgene-induced silencing in the ciliate Paramecium needs both Dicer activity and two Ptiwi proteins. This pathway involves primary siRNAs produced from non-translatable transgenes and secondary siRNAs from targeted endogenous loci. Our data does not indicate any signatures from ping-pong
more » ... ion but Dicer cleavage of long dsRNA. Ptiwi13 and 14 prefer different sub-cellular localizations and different preferences for primary and secondary siRNAs but do not load them mutually exclusive. Both Piwis enrich for antisense RNAs and show a general preference for uridine-rich sRNAs along the entire sRNA length. In addition, Ptiwi14-loaded siRNAs show a 5´-U signature. Our data indicates both Ptiwis and 2´-O-methylation contributing to strand selection of Dicer cleaved siRNAs. This unexpected function of the two distinct vegetative Piwis extends the increasing knowledge of the diversity of Piwi functions in diverse silencing pathways. We describe an unusual mode of action of Piwi proteins extending not only the great variety of Piwi-associated RNAi pathways but moreover raising the question whether this could have been the primordial one.
doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.16828960.v1 fatcat:otnufvrf4baxhjhr5mfn735lky