yama, a mutant allele of Mov10l1, disrupts retrotransposon silencing and piRNA biogenesis

Yongjuan Guan, Scott Keeney, Devanshi Jain, P. Jeremy Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) play critical roles in protecting germline genome integrity and promoting normal spermiogenic differentiation. In mammals, there are two populations of piRNAs: pre-pachytene and pachytene. Transposon-rich pre-pachytene piRNAs are expressed in fetal and perinatal germ cells and are required for retrotransposon silencing, whereas transposon-poor pachytene piRNAs are expressed in spermatocytes and round spermatids and regulate mRNA transcript levels. MOV10L1, a germ cell-specific RNA helicase, is essential for the production of both populations of piRNAs. Although the requirement of the RNA helicase domain located in the MOV10L1 C-terminal region for piRNA biogenesis is well known, its large N-terminal region remains mysterious. Here we report a novel Mov10l1 mutation, named yama, in the Mov10l1 N-terminal region. The yama mutation results in a single amino acid substitution V229E. The yama mutation causes meiotic arrest, de-repression of transposable elements, and male sterility because of defects in pre-pachytene piRNA biogenesis. Moreover, restricting the Mov10l1 mutation effects to later stages in germ cell development by combining with a postnatal conditional deletion of a complementing wild-type allele causes absence of pachytene piRNAs, accumulation of piRNA precursors, polar conglomeration of piRNA pathway proteins in spermatocytes, and spermiogenic arrest. Mechanistically, the V229E substitution in MOV10L1 reduces its interaction with PLD6, an endonuclease that generates the 50 ends of piRNA intermediates. Our results uncover an important role for the MOV10L1-PLD6 interaction in piRNA biogenesis throughout male germ cell development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1009265
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number2 February
StatePublished - Feb 26 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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