PIWI protein as a nucleolus visitor in Drosophila melanogasterстатья

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[1] Piwi protein as a nucleolus visitor in drosophila melanogaster / E. A. Mikhaleva, E. I. Iakushev, A. D. Stoliarenko et al. // Molekuliarnaia biologiia. — 2015. — Vol. 49, no. 1. — P. 184–189. The evolutionarily conserved nuclear Piwi protein of Drosophila melanogaster is a representative of the Argonaute small RNA binding protein family. Guided by small piRNAs, Piwi functions in transposon silencing in somatic and germ cells of the gonad. We found that in ovarian somatic and germ cells, as well as in the established ovarian somatic cell line, Piwi is concentrated predominantly in the nucleolus–the main nuclear compartment, participating not only in rRNA synthesis, but also in various cell stress responses. We demonstrated the colocalization of Piwi with nucleolar marker proteins–fibrillarin and Nopp140. A mutation preventing Piwi transport to the nucleus and disturbing transposon silencing (piwi(Nt)) leads to 6-8-fold upregulation of rRNA genes expression, as evaluated by the level of transcripts of transposon insertions in 28S rRNA genes. RNase treatment of live cultured ovarian somatic cells depletes Piwi from the nucleolus. The same effect is observed upon inhibiting RNA polymerase I which transcribes rRNA, but not RNA polymerase II. In contrast, upon heat shock Piwi is concentrated in the nucleolus and is depleted from the nucleoplasm. These results implicate Piwi in RNA polymerase activity modulation and stress response in the nucleolus. We discuss possible noncanonical Piwi functions along with its canonical role in transposon silencing by piRNAs.

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