Pachytene piRNAs instruct massive mRNA elimination during late spermiogenesis

Cell Research
Lan-Tao GouMo-Fang Liu


Spermatogenesis in mammals is characterized by two waves of piRNA expression: one corresponds to classic piRNAs responsible for silencing retrotransponsons and the second wave is predominantly derived from nontransposon intergenic regions in pachytene spermatocytes, but the function of these pachytene piRNAs is largely unknown. Here, we report the involvement of pachytene piRNAs in instructing massive mRNA elimination in mouse elongating spermatids (ES). We demonstrate that a piRNA-induced silencing complex (pi-RISC) containing murine PIWI (MIWI) and deadenylase CAF1 is selectively assembled in ES, which is responsible for inducing mRNA deadenylation and decay via a mechanism that resembles the action of miRNAs in somatic cells. Such a highly orchestrated program appears to take full advantage of the enormous repertoire of diversified targeting capacity of pachytene piRNAs derived from nontransposon intergenic regions. These findings suggest that pachytene piRNAs are responsible for inactivating vast cellular programs in preparation for sperm production from ES.


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