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Science 313 (5785): 320-324

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

A Distinct Small RNA Pathway Silences Selfish Genetic Elements in the Germline

Vasily V. Vagin,1,2* Alla Sigova,1* Chengjian Li,1 Hervé Seitz,1 Vladimir Gvozdev,2 Phillip D. Zamore1{dagger}

Abstract: In the Drosophila germline, repeat-associated small interfering RNAs (rasiRNAs) ensure genomic stability by silencing endogenous selfish genetic elements such as retrotransposons and repetitive sequences. Whereas small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) derive from both the sense and antisense strands of their double-stranded RNA precursors, rasiRNAs arise mainly from the antisense strand. rasiRNA production appears not to require Dicer-1, which makes microRNAs (miRNAs), or Dicer-2, which makes siRNAs, and rasiRNAs lack the 2',3' hydroxy termini characteristic of animal siRNA and miRNA. Unlike siRNAs and miRNAs, rasiRNAs function through the Piwi, rather than the Ago, Argonaute protein subfamily. Our data suggest that rasiRNAs protect the fly germline through a silencing mechanism distinct from both the miRNA and RNA interference pathways.

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.
2 Department of Animal Molecular Genetics, Institute of Molecular Genetics, Moscow 123182, Russia.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: phillip.zamore{at}

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Proteomic analysis of murine Piwi proteins reveals a role for arginine methylation in specifying interaction with Tudor family members.
V. V. Vagin, J. Wohlschlegel, J. Qu, Z. Jonsson, X. Huang, S. Chuma, A. Girard, R. Sachidanandam, G. J. Hannon, and A. A. Aravin (2009)
Genes & Dev. 23, 1749-1762
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