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Théron, E., Maupetit-Mehouas, S., Pouchin, P., Baudet, L., Brasset, E., Vaury, C. (2018). The interplay between the Argonaute proteins Piwi and Aub within Drosophila germarium is critical for oogenesis, piRNA biogenesis and TE silencing.  Nucleic Acids Res. 46(19): 10052--10065.
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Research paper

Transposable elements (TEs) have invaded most genomes and constitute up to 50% of the human genome. Machinery based on small non-coding piRNAs has evolved to inhibit their expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Surprisingly, this machinery is weakened during specific windows of time in mice, flies or plants, allowing the expression of TEs in germline cells. The function of this de-repression remains unknown. In Drosophila, we have previously shown that this developmental window is characterized by a reduction of Piwi expression in dividing germ cells. Here, we show that the unique knock-down of Aub in these cells leads to female sterility. It correlates with defects in piRNA amplification, an increased Piwi expression and an increased silencing of transcriptionally silenced TEs. These defects are similar to those observed when Aub is depleted in the whole germline which underlies the crucial role of this developmental window for both oogenesis and TE silencing. We further show that, with age, some fertility is recovered which is concomitant to a decrease of Piwi and TE silencing. These data pinpoint the Pilp as a tremendously important step for female fertility and genome stability. They further show that such a restricted developmental niche of germ cells may sense environmental changes, such as aging, to protect the germline all along the life.

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PMC6212714 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Nucleic Acids Res.
    Nucleic Acids Research
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