P granules protect RNA interference genes from silencing by piRNAs

John Paul T. Ouyang, Andrew Folkmann, Lauren Bernard, Chih Yung Lee, Uri Seroussi, Amanda G. Charlesworth, Julie M. Claycomb, Geraldine Seydoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


P granules are perinuclear condensates in C. elegans germ cells proposed to serve as hubs for self/non-self RNA discrimination by Argonautes. We report that a mutant (meg-3 meg-4) that does not assemble P granules in primordial germ cells loses competence for RNA-interference over several generations and accumulates silencing small RNAs against hundreds of endogenous genes, including the RNA-interference genes rde-11 and sid-1. In wild-type, rde-11 and sid-1 transcripts are heavily targeted by piRNAs, accumulate in P granules, but maintain expression. In the primordial germ cells of meg-3 meg-4 mutants, rde-11 and sid-1 transcripts disperse in the cytoplasm with the small RNA biogenesis machinery, become hyper-targeted by secondary sRNAs, and are eventually silenced. Silencing requires the PIWI-class Argonaute PRG-1 and the nuclear Argonaute HRDE-1 that maintains trans-generational silencing of piRNA targets. These observations support a “safe harbor” model for P granules in protecting germline transcripts from piRNA-initiated silencing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jul 18 2019


  • Argonautes
  • Epigenetic silencing
  • P granules
  • PiRNAs
  • RNA-mediated interference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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