Mitochondrial membrane-based initial separation of MIWI and MILI functions during pachytene piRNA biogenesis

Deqiang Ding, Jiali Liu, Kunzhe Dong, Ashley F. Melnick, Keith E. Latham, C. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) engage PIWI proteins to silence transposons and promote germ cell development in animals. In diverse species, piRNA biogenesis occurs near the mitochondrial surface, and involves mitochondrial membrane-anchored factors. In mice, two cytoplasmic PIWI proteins, MIWI and MILI, receive processed pachytene piRNAs at intermitochodrial cement (IMC). However, how MIWI and MILI are initially recruited to the IMC to engage multiple steps of piRNA processing is unclear. Here, we show that mitochondria-anchored TDRKH controls multiple steps of pachytene piRNA biogenesis in mice. TDRKH specifically recruits MIWI, but not MILI, to engage the piRNA pathway. It is required for the production of the entire MIWI-bound piRNA population and enables trimming of MILI-bound piRNAs. The failure to recruit MIWI to the IMC with TDRKH deficiency results in loss of MIWI in the chromatoid body, leading to spermiogenic arrest and piRNA-independent retrotransposon LINE1 de-repression in round spermatids. Our findings identify a mitochondrial surface-based scaffolding mechanism separating the entry and actions of two critical PIWI proteins in the same piRNA pathway to drive piRNA biogenesis and germ cell development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2594-2608
Number of pages15
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 18 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Mitochondrial membrane-based initial separation of MIWI and MILI functions during pachytene piRNA biogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this