Piwil2 (Mili) sustains neurogenesis and prevents cellular senescence in the postnatal hippocampus

EMBO Rep. 2023 Feb 6;24(2):e53801. doi: 10.15252/embr.202153801. Epub 2022 Dec 6.


Adult neural progenitor cells (aNPCs) ensure lifelong neurogenesis in the mammalian hippocampus. Proper regulation of aNPC fate has thus important implications for brain plasticity and healthy aging. Piwi proteins and the small noncoding RNAs interacting with them (piRNAs) have been proposed to control memory and anxiety, but the mechanism remains elusive. Here, we show that Piwil2 (Mili) is essential for proper neurogenesis in the postnatal mouse hippocampus. RNA sequencing of aNPCs and their differentiated progeny reveal that Mili and piRNAs are dynamically expressed in neurogenesis. Depletion of Mili and piRNAs in the adult hippocampus impairs aNPC differentiation toward a neural fate, induces senescence, and generates reactive glia. Transcripts modulated upon Mili depletion bear sequences complementary or homologous to piRNAs and include repetitive elements and mRNAs encoding essential proteins for proper neurogenesis. Our results provide evidence of a critical role for Mili in maintaining fitness and proper fate of aNPCs, underpinning a possible involvement of the piRNA pathway in brain plasticity and successful aging.

Keywords: Mili; Piwi-interacting RNAs; Piwil2; hippocampal neurogenesis; senescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Argonaute Proteins* / genetics
  • Argonaute Proteins* / metabolism
  • Cellular Senescence / genetics
  • Hippocampus* / metabolism
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neurogenesis* / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism


  • Argonaute Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Piwil2 protein, mouse

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE182848