Transposable elements (TEs) are parasitic mobile sequences of DNA that can proliferate throughout the genome by replicating and reinserting themselves into new regions of DNA. This process can disrupt normal gene function via insertional mutations, double stranded DNA breaks, apoptosis and chromosomal rearrangements. They also contribute to genetic variation and alteration to gene regulation. TEs are of medical interest as they have been associated with cancer, neurodegeneration, and natural aging. Previous studies have estimated that TEs can account for approximately 44% of the human genome. Fortunately, molecular defenses involving small RNA-mediated silencing of foreign transcripts provide genomic regulation so that less than 0.05% of all TEs are active. The piRNA pathway silences TEs primarily in the gonads. piRNAs are small 23-29 nucleotide small RNAs and are transcribed from regions of the genome called piRNA clusters. piRNAs associate with the P-element induced wimpy testes (PIWI) protein. PIWI, driven by the transcription factor Traffic jam (TJ), uses its bound piRNA to target homologous nascent TE transcripts in the nucleus and recruits the chromatin-silencing factors H3K9me3 and HP1. TE suppression by the piRNA pathway has long been considered to be specific to the gonadal tissues, serving as vital protection of genomic integrity during gametogenesis and development. Here we present evidence that this pathway is also present and functional in the Drosophila abdominal fat body and that it is necessary for normal fat body function.\n\n\n\n
"Investigating the role of a somatic piRNA pathway in drosophila melanogaster fat body function"
Summer Research Symposium.
Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.
Each year, Brown University showcases the research of its undergraduates at the Summer Research Symposium. More than half of the student-researchers are UTRA recipients, while others receive funding from a variety of Brown-administered and national programs and fellowships and go …