PIE-1 SUMOylation promotes germline fates and piRNA-dependent silencing in C. elegans

Elife. 2021 May 18;10:e63300. doi: 10.7554/eLife.63300.


Germlines shape and balance heredity, integrating and regulating information from both parental and foreign sources. Insights into how germlines handle information have come from the study of factors that specify or maintain the germline fate. In early Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, the CCCH zinc finger protein PIE-1 localizes to the germline where it prevents somatic differentiation programs. Here, we show that PIE-1 also functions in the meiotic ovary where it becomes SUMOylated and engages the small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO)-conjugating machinery. Using whole-SUMO-proteome mass spectrometry, we identify HDAC SUMOylation as a target of PIE-1. Our analyses of genetic interactions between pie-1 and SUMO pathway mutants suggest that PIE-1 engages the SUMO machinery both to preserve the germline fate in the embryo and to promote Argonaute-mediated surveillance in the adult germline.

Keywords: C. elegans; NuRD complex; SUMO pathway; genetics; genomics; germline chromatin; germline fate.