In developing male germ cells, prospermatogonia, two Piwi proteins, MILI and MIWI2, use Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) guides to repress transposable element (TE) expression and ensure genome stability and proper gametogenesis. In addition to their roles in post-transcriptional TE repression, both proteins are required for DNA methylation of TE sequences. Here, we analyzed the effect of Miwi2 deficiency on piRNA biogenesis and transposon repression. Miwi2 deficiency had only a minor impact on piRNA biogenesis; however, the piRNA profile of Miwi2-knockout mice indicated overexpression of several LINE1 TE families that led to activation of the ping-pong piRNA cycle. Furthermore, we found that MILI and MIWI2 have distinct functions in TE repression in the nucleus. MILI is responsible for DNA methylation of a larger subset of TE families than MIWI2 is, suggesting that the proteins have independent roles in establishing DNA methylation patterns.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.