American Chemical Society
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Decay of Piwi-Interacting RNAs in Human Cells Is Primarily Mediated by 5′ to 3′ Exoribonucleases

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-06-10, 21:04 authored by Sumirtha Balaratnam, Mohammed Enamul Hoque, Nicole West, Soumitra Basu
Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are a group of small noncoding RNA molecules that regulate the activity of transposons and control gene expression. The cellular concentration of RNAs is generally maintained by their rates of biogenesis and degradation. Although the biogenesis pathways of piRNAs have been well defined, their degradation mechanism is still unknown. Here, we show that degradation of human piRNAs is mostly dependent on the 5′–3′ exoribonuclease pathway. The presence of 3′-end 2′-O-methylation in piRNAs significantly reduced their degradation through the exosome-mediated decay pathway. The accumulation of piRNAs in XRN1 and XRN2 exoribonuclease-depleted cells further supports the 5′–3′ exoribonuclease-mediated decay of piRNAs. Moreover, formation of stable secondary structures in piRNAs slows the rate of XRN1-mediated degradation. Our findings establish a framework for the piRNA degradation mechanism in cells and thus provide crucial information about how the basal level concentration of piRNAs is maintained in cells.