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Review
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piRNAs and PIWI Proteins: Regulators of Gene Expression in Development and Stem Cells

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Review

piRNAs and PIWI Proteins: Regulators of Gene Expression in Development and Stem Cells

Patricia Rojas-Ríos et al. Development.

Abstract

PIWI proteins and Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) have established and conserved roles in repressing transposable elements (TEs) in the germline of animals. However, in several biological contexts, a large proportion of piRNAs are not related to TE sequences and, accordingly, functions for piRNAs and PIWI proteins that are independent of TE regulation have been identified. This aspect of piRNA biology is expanding rapidly. Indeed, recent reports have revealed the role of piRNAs in the regulation of endogenous gene expression programs in germ cells, as well as in somatic tissues, challenging dogma in the piRNA field. In this Review, we focus on recent data addressing the biological and developmental functions of piRNAs, highlighting their roles in embryonic patterning, germ cell specification, stem cell biology, neuronal activity and metabolism.

Keywords: Drosophila embryonic patterning; Germ cells; Germline stem cells; Maternal mRNAs; Metabolism; Mouse spermatogenesis; PIWI proteins; Regeneration; Stem cells; mRNA localization; mRNA stability; piRNAs.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

Cited by 17 PubMed Central articles

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