In animals, PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) direct PIWI proteins to silence complementary targets such as transposons. In Drosophila and other species with a maternally specified germline, piRNAs deposited in the egg initiate piRNA biogenesis in the progeny. However, Y chromosome loci cannot participate in such a chain of intergenerational inheritance. How then can the biogenesis of Y-linked piRNAs be initiated? Here, using Suppressor of Stellate (Su(Ste)), a Y-linked Drosophila melanogaster piRNA locus as a model, we show that Su(Ste) piRNAs are made in the early male germline via 5′-to-3′ phased piRNA biogenesis initiated by maternally deposited 1360/Hoppel transposon piRNAs. Notably, deposition of Su(Ste) piRNAs from XXY mothers obviates the need for phased piRNA biogenesis in sons. Together, our study uncovers a developmentally programmed, intergenerational mechanism that allows fly mothers to protect their sons using a Y-linked piRNA locus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology