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Mirkovic-Hösle, Milijana; Förstemann, Klaus (2014): Transposon Defense by Endo-siRNAs, piRNAs and Somatic pilRNAs in Drosophila: Contributions of Loqs-PD and R2D2.
In: PLOS ONE 9(1), e84994
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Abstract

Transposable elements are a serious threat for genome integrity and their control via small RNA mediated silencing pathways is an ancient strategy. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has two silencing activities that target transposons: endogenous siRNAs (esiRNAs or endo-siRNAs) and Piwi-interacting small RNAs (piRNAs). The biogenesis of endo-siRNAs involves the Dicer-2 co-factors Loqs-PD, which acts predominantly during processing of dsRNA by Dcr-2, and R2D2, which primarily helps to direct siRNAs into the RNA interference effector Ago2. Nonetheless, loss of either protein is not sufficient to produce a phenotype comparable with a dcr-2 mutation. We provide further deep sequencing evidence supporting the notion that R2D2 and Loqs-PD have partially overlapping function. Certain transposons display a preference for either dsRBD-protein during production or loading;this appeared to correlate neither with overall abundance, classification of the transposon or a specific site of genomic origin. The endo-siRNA biogenesis pathway in germline operates according to the same principles as the existing model for the soma, and its impairment does not significantly affect piRNAs. Expanding the analysis, we confirmed the occurrence of somatic piRNA-like RNAs (pilRNAs) that show a ping-pong signature. We detected expression of the Piwi-family protein mRNAs only barely above background, indicating that the somatic pilRNAs may arise from a small sub-population of somatic cells that express a functional piRNA pathway.