Transposable elements (TEs) are silenced in germ cells by a mechanism in which PIWI proteins generate and use PIWIinteracting ribonucleic acid (piRNA) to repress expression of TE genes. piRNA biogenesis occurs by an amplification cycle in microscopic organelles called nuage granules, which are localized to the outer face of the nuclear envelope. One cofactor required for amplification is the helicase Spindle-E (Spn-E). We found that the Spn-E protein physically associates with the Tudor domain protein Qin and the PIWI proteins Aubergine (Aub) and Argonaute3 (Ago3). Spn-E and Qin proteins are mutually dependent for their exit from nuage granules, whereas Spn-E and both Aub and Ago3 are mutually dependent for their entry or retention in nuage. The result is a dynamic cycling of Spn-E and its associated factors in and out of nuage granules. This implies that nuage granules can be considered to be hubs for active, mobile, and transient complexes. We suggest that this is in some way coupled with the execution of the piRNA amplification cycle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology