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PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) is the largest small non-coding RNA molecule expressed in animal cells and is highly enriched in the germline tissues of most metazoans. The piRNA contains 26-33 nt, slightly longer than the miRNA and siRNA, and has 2'-O-methyl modification sites at the 3' end and strong bias toward uridine at the 5' end (1 U). piRNA interacts with PIWI protein to forms an RNA-protein complex, the core of the piRNA pathway whose primary function is to silence the transposable element.

Mutations in piRNA and PIWI proteins alter the activity of transposons, allowing them to inject copies in the genome or randomly replace them, which leads to the CHK2 DNA checkpoint damage, causing microtubule tissue and shaft specifications to fail throughout the gonadal development, leading to infertility. piRNA is produced in two ways: primary processing and ping-pong amplification that is a post-transcriptional silencing mechanism combing cleavage-dependent silencing of transposon RNA with piRNA production. In mammalian, piRNA genes can be divided into two classes, the pre-thick line and the thick line piRNA genes, depending on their meiotic stage of expression in developing spermatocytes. They may have different functions depending on their sequence characteristics:

  • Phylogeny and spermatogenesis.
  • Transposon silencing and maintenance of genomic integrity.
  • Translation and genetic transformation.
  • In somatic cells, the maternal PIWI protein is essential for maintaining chromatin structure and cell cycle progression during early embryogenesis.
  • In humans, PIWI and piRNA pathways may be associated with cancers. Further studies revealed that abnormal expression of PIWI protein and/or piRNA in various cancers is associated with tumor grade and patient survival.

Figure 1: Biological functions, potential clinical application and  target genes of piRNAs in cancer (Yu Y. 2019) Figure 1: Biological functions, potential clinical application and target genes of piRNAs in cancer (Yu Y. 2019)

Therefore, piRNAs have opened up a new avenue that highlights their useful use as biomarkers for the diagnosis of early and specific diseases. However, there are still some challenges to consider in our efforts to turn these findings into clinical.

IntegrateRNA, one of the global biotechnology companies specializing in RNA research, is dedicated to providing products and services to a wide range of genomics researchers, including various types of RNA discovery, analysis, and related bioinformatics services. Based on our platform, we are able to provide our clients with complete, innovative solutions and high-quality products, which have fully recognized by our clients, to help you solve the problems you encounter during research. If you have any questions or want to know more about piRNA services and products, don’t hesitate to contact us.

References:

  • Preethi Krishnan and Sambasivarao Damaraju. piRNAs in the pathophysiology of disease and potential clinical applications. AGO-Driven Non-Coding RNAs. 2019:335-356.
  • Eva-Maria Weick and Eric A. Miska. piRNAs: from biogenesis to function. Development. 2014; 141: 3458-3471.
  • Benjamin Czech and Gregory J. Hannon. One Loop to Rule Them All: The Ping-Pong Cycle and piRNA-Guided Silencing. Trends Biochem Sci. 2016; 41(4):324–337.
  • Benjamin Czech. piRNA-Guided Genome Defense: From Biogenesis to Silencing. Annual Review of Genetics. 2018;52:131-157.
  • Sarkar, A and Ghosh, Z. Rejuvenation of piRNAs in emergence of cancer and other diseases. AGO-Driven Non-Coding RNAs. 2019:319–333.
  • Yu Y. et al. The emerging roles of PIWI-interacting RNA in human cancers. Cancer Management and Research. 2019; 2019(11):5895—5909.
For research use only. Not intended for any clinical use.
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