piRNAs-the ancient hunters of genome invaders
Genes & Development, 2007, 21, 1707-13 published on 16.07.2007
In addition to miRNAs and siRNAs, a third small RNA silencing system has been uncovered that prevents the spreading of selfish genetic elements. Production of the Piwi-associated RNAs (piRNAs), which mediate the silencing activity in this pathway, is initiated at a few master control regions within the genome. The nature of the primary piRNA-generating transcript is still unknown, but RNA interference (RNAi)-like cleavage events are likely defining the 5'-ends of mature piRNAs. We summarize the recent literature on piRNA biogenesis and function with an emphasis on work in Drosophila, where genetics and biochemistry have met very successfully.