Genetic polymorphisms lead to major, locus-specific, variation in piRNA production in mouse

Eduard Casas, Pío Sierra, Cristina Moreta-Moraleda, Judith Cebria, Ilaria Panzeri, J. Andrew Pospisilik, Josep C. Jimenez-Chillaron, Sonia V. Forcales, Tanya Vavouri


PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that silence transposons in the animal germline. PiRNAs are produced from long single-stranded non-coding transcripts, from protein-coding transcripts, as well as from transposons. While some sites that produce piRNAs are in deeply conserved syntenic regions, in general, piRNAs and piRNA-producing loci turnover faster than other functional parts of the genome. To learn about the sequence changes that contribute to the fast evolution of piRNAs, we set out to analyse piRNA expression between genetically different mice. Here we report the sequencing and analysis of small RNAs from the mouse male germline of four classical inbred strains, one inbred wild-derived strain and one outbred strain. We find that genetic differences between individuals underlie variation in piRNA expression. We report significant differences in piRNA production at loci with endogenous retrovirus insertions. Strain-specific piRNA-producing loci include protein-coding genes. Our findings provide evidence that transposable elements contribute to inter-individual differences in expression, and potentially to the fast evolution of piRNA-producing loci in mammals.

Obre a Pubmed