The emergence of piRNAs against transposon invasion to preserve mammalian genome integrity

15 Jan 2018

Transposable elements (TEs) contribute to the large amount of repetitive sequences in mammalian genomes and have been linked to species-specific genome innovations by rewiring regulatory circuitries. However, organisms need to restrict TE activity to ensure genome integrity, especially in germline cells to protect the transmission of genetic information to the next generation. This review features our current understandings of mammalian PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) and their role in TE regulation in spermatogenesis. Here we discuss functional implication and explore additional molecular mechanisms that inhibit transposon activity and altogether illustrate the paradoxical arms race between genome evolution and stability.