Scientific article
Open access

The MID-PIWI module of Piwi proteins specifies nucleotide- and strand-biases of piRNAs

Published inRNA, vol. 20, no. 6, p. 773-781
Publication date2014-06-22
First online date2014-04-22

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.

  • MID
  • Piwi
  • U1-bias
  • PiRNA
  • Strand-bias
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
  • NHGRI NIH HHS - [1R21HG003794-01]
  • NICHD NIH HHS - [R01 HD069592]
Citation (ISO format)
CORA, Elisa et al. The MID-PIWI module of Piwi proteins specifies nucleotide- and strand-biases of piRNAs. In: RNA, 2014, vol. 20, n° 6, p. 773–781. doi: 10.1261/rna.044701.114
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1355-8382

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