UMMS Affiliation

Program in Molecular Medicine

Date

11-23-2007

Document Type

Article

Subjects

Animals; *Biogenesis; Fertility; Germ Cells; RNA, Small Interfering; Sex Determination (Genetics); Stem Cells

Disciplines

Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences

Abstract

Small interfering RNAs and microRNAs are generated from double-stranded RNA precursors by the Dicer endonucleases, and function with Argonaute-family proteins to target transcript destruction or to silence translation. A distinct class of 24- to 30-nucleotide-long RNAs, produced by a Dicer-independent mechanism, associates with Piwi-class Argonaute proteins. Studies in flies, fish and mice implicate these Piwi-associated RNAs (piRNAs) in germline development, silencing of selfish DNA elements, and in maintaining germline DNA integrity. However, whether piRNAs primarily control chromatin organization, gene transcription, RNA stability or RNA translation is not well understood, neither is piRNA biogenesis. Here, we review recent studies of piRNA production and function, and discuss unanswered questions about this intriguing new class of small RNAs.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Development. 2008 Jan;135(1):3-9. Epub 2007 Nov 21. Link to article on publisher's site

DOI of Published Version

10.1242/dev.006486

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal Title

Development (Cambridge, England)

PubMed ID

18032451

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