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Complex genetic interactions between piwi and hp1a in the repression of transposable elements and tissue‐specific genes in the ovarian germline

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Nikolay ZenkinORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Insertions of transposable elements (TEs) in eukaryotic genomes are usually associated with repressive chromatin, which spreads to neighbouring genomic sequences. In ovaries of Dro-sophila melanogaster, the Piwi‐piRNA pathway plays a key role in the transcriptional silencing of TEs considered to be exerted mostly through the establishment of H3K9me3 histone marks recruiting Heterochromatin Protein 1a (HP1a). Here, using RNA‐seq, we investigated the expression of TEs and the adjacent genomic regions upon Piwi and HP1a germline knockdowns sharing a similar genetic background. We found that the depletion of Piwi and HP1a led to the derepression of only partially overlapping TE sets. Several TEs were silenced predominantly by HP1a, whereas the up-regulation of some other TEs was more pronounced upon Piwi knockdown and, surprisingly, was diminished upon a Piwi/HP1a double‐knockdown. We revealed that HP1a loss influenced the expression of thousands of protein‐coding genes mostly not adjacent to TE insertions and, in particu-lar, downregulated a putative transcriptional factor required for TE activation. Nevertheless, our results indicate that Piwi and HP1a cooperatively exert repressive effects on the transcription of euchromatic loci flanking the insertions of some Piwi‐regulated TEs. We suggest that this mechanism controls the silencing of a small set of TE‐adjacent tissue‐specific genes, preventing their inap-propriate expression in ovaries.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ilyin AA, Stolyarenko AD, Zenkin N, Klenov MS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Molecular Sciences

Year: 2021

Volume: 22

Print publication date: 02/12/2021

Online publication date: 14/12/2021

Acceptance date: 10/12/2021

Date deposited: 17/01/2022

ISSN (print): 1661-6596

ISSN (electronic): 1422-0067

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/ijms222413430


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