The histone demethylase Kdm3 prevents auto-immune piRNAs production in Drosophila

Sci Adv. 2023 Apr 7;9(14):eade3872. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.ade3872. Epub 2023 Apr 7.


Genome integrity of the animal germline is protected from transposable element activity by PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). While piRNA biogenesis is intensively explored, little is known about the genetical determination of piRNA clusters, the genomic sources of piRNAs. Using a bimodal epigenetic state piRNA cluster (BX2), we identified the histone demethylase Kdm3 as being able to prevent a cryptic piRNA production. In the absence of Kdm3, dozens of coding gene-containing regions become genuine germline dual-strand piRNA clusters. Eggs laid by Kdm3 mutant females show developmental defects phenocopying loss of function of genes embedded into the additional piRNA clusters, suggesting an inheritance of functional ovarian "auto-immune" piRNAs. Antagonizing piRNA cluster determination through chromatin modifications appears crucial to prevent auto-immune genic piRNAs production.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins* / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins* / metabolism
  • Drosophila* / genetics
  • Drosophila* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Piwi-Interacting RNA
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics


  • Piwi-Interacting RNA
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements