Conservation and expression of PIWI-interacting RNA pathway genes in male and female adult gonad of amniotes

Shu Ly Lim, Enkhjargal Tsend-Ayush, R Daniel Kortschak, Reuben P Jacob, Carmela Ricciardelli, Martin K Oehler, Frank Grutzner

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26 Citations (Scopus)


The PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway is essential for germline development and transposable element repression. Key elements of this pathway are members of the piRNA-binding PIWI/Argonaute protein family and associated factors (e.g., VASA, MAELSTROM, and TUDOR domain proteins). PIWIinteracting RNAs have been identified in mouse testis and oocytes, but information about the expression of the different piRNA pathway genes, in particular in the mammalian ovary, remains incomplete. We investigated the evolution and expression of piRNA pathway genes in gonads of amniote species (chicken, platypus, and mouse). Database searches confirm a high level of conservation and revealed lineage-specific gain and loss of Piwi genes in vertebrates. Expression analysis in mammals shows that orthologs of Piwi-like (Piwil) genes, Mael (Maelstrom), Mvh (mouse vasa homolog), and Tdrd1 (Tudor domaincontaining protein 1) are expressed in platypus adult testis. In contrast to mouse, Piwil4 is expressed in platypus and human adult testis. We found evidence for Mael and Piwil2 expression in mouse Sertoli cells. Importantly, we show mRNA expression of Piwil2, Piwil4, and Mael in oocytes and supporting cells of human, mouse, and platypus ovary. We found no Piwil1 expression in mouse and chicken ovary. The conservation of gene expression in somatic parts of the gonad and germ cells of species that diverged over 800 million yr ago indicates an important role in adult male and female gonad. ? 2013 by the Society for the Study of Reproduction, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 13
Number of pages13
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number6 (Art. No. 136)
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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