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This article is the author’s final published version in Nature Communications, Volume 12, Issue 1, July 2021, Article number 4498.

The published version is available at Copyright © Shigematsu et al.


In animal germlines, PIWI proteins and the associated PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) protect genome integrity by silencing transposons. Here we report the extensive sequence and quantitative correlations between 2′,3′-cyclic phosphate-containing RNAs (cP-RNAs), identified using cP-RNA-seq, and piRNAs in the Bombyx germ cell line and mouse testes. The cP-RNAs containing 5′-phosphate (P-cP-RNAs) identified by P-cP-RNA-seq harbor highly consistent 5′-end positions as the piRNAs and are loaded onto PIWI protein, suggesting their direct utilization as piRNA precursors. We identified Bombyx RNase Kappa (BmRNase κ) as a mitochondria-associated endoribonuclease which produces cP-RNAs during piRNA biogenesis. BmRNase κ-depletion elevated transposon levels and disrupted a piRNA-mediated sex determination in Bombyx embryos, indicating the crucial roles of BmRNase κ in piRNA biogenesis and embryonic development. Our results reveal a BmRNase κ-engaged piRNA biogenesis pathway, in which the generation of cP-RNAs promotes robust piRNA production.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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