Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) and PIWI proteins play a crucial role in germ cells by repressing transposable elements and regulating gene expression. In Drosophila, maternal piRNAs are loaded into the embryo mostly bound to the PIWI protein Aubergine (Aub). Aub targets maternal mRNAs through incomplete base-pairing with piRNAs and can induce their destabilization in the somatic part of the embryo. Paradoxically, these Aub-dependent unstable mRNAs encode germ cell determinants that are selectively stabilized in the germ plasm. Here we show that piRNAs and Aub actively protect germ cell mRNAs in the germ plasm. Aub directly interacts with the germline-specific poly(A) polymerase Wispy, thus leading to mRNA polyadenylation and stabilization in the germ plasm. These results reveal a role for piRNAs in mRNA stabilization and identify Aub as an interactor of Wispy for mRNA polyadenylation. They further highlight the role of Aub and piRNAs in embryonic patterning through two opposite functions.
- piwi RNAs