Roles of Piwi Proteins in Transcriptional Regulation Mediated by HP1s in Cultured Silkworm Cells

<div><p>Piwi proteins are part of a superfamily of Argonaute proteins, which are one of the core components of the RNA silencing pathway in many eukaryotes. Piwi proteins are thought to repress the transposon expression both transcriptionally and post-transcriptionally. Recently, <i>Drosophila melanogaster</i> Piwi was recently reported to associate with chromatin and to interact directly with the Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1a). However, similar interactions have not been reported in other higher eukaryotes. Here we show that silkworm Piwi proteins interact with HP1s in the nucleus. The silkworm, <i>Bombyx mori</i>, has two Piwi proteins, Ago3 and Siwi, and two typical HP1 proteins, HP1a and HP1b. We found that HP1a plays an important role in the interaction between Ago3/Siwi and HP1b in the ovary-derived BmN4 cell line. We also found that Ago3/Siwi regulates the transcription in an HP1-dependent manner. These results suggest that silkworm Piwi proteins function as a chromatin regulator in collaboration with HP1a and HP1b.</p></div>