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Expansion of Genes Encoding piRNA-Associated Argonaute Proteins in the Pea Aphid: Diversification of Expression Profiles in Different PlasticMorphs

Abstract : Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are known to regulate transposon activity in germ cells of several animal models that propagate sexually. However, the role of piRNAs during asexual reproduction remains almost unknown. Aphids that can alternate sexual and asexual reproduction cycles in response to seasonal changes of photoperiod provide a unique opportunity to study piRNAs and the piRNA pathway in both reproductive modes. Taking advantage of the recently sequenced genome of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, we found an unusually large lineage-specific expansion of genes encoding the Piwi sub-clade of Argonaute proteins. In situ hybridisation showed differential expressions between the duplicated piwi copies: while Api-piwi2 and Api-piwi6 are "specialised" in germ cells their most closely related copy, respectively Api-piwi5 and Api-piwi3, are expressed in the somatic cells. The differential expression was also identified in duplicated ago3: Api-ago3a in germ cells and Api-ago3b in somatic cells. Moreover, analyses of expression profiles of the expanded piwi and ago3 genes by semi-quantitative RT-PCR showed that expressions varied according to the reproductive types. These specific expression patterns suggest that expanded aphid piwi and ago3 genes have distinct roles in asexual and sexual reproduction.
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Hsiao-Ling Lu, Sylvie Tanguy, Claude Rispe, Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Tom Walsh, et al.. Expansion of Genes Encoding piRNA-Associated Argonaute Proteins in the Pea Aphid: Diversification of Expression Profiles in Different PlasticMorphs. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2011, 6 (12), ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0028051⟩. ⟨hal-02650214⟩

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