Small RNAs mediate gene silencing by binding Argonaute/Piwi proteins to regulate target RNAs. Here, we describe small RNA profiling of the adult testes of Callithrix jacchus, the common marmoset. The most abundant class of small RNAs in the adult testis was piRNAs, although 353 novel miRNAs but few endo-siRNAs were also identified. MARWI, a marmoset homolog of mouse MIWI and a very abundant PIWI in adult testes, associates with piRNAs that show characteristics of mouse pachytene piRNAs. As in other mammals, most marmoset piRNAs are derived from conserved clustered regions in the genome, which are annotated as intergenic regions. However, unlike in mice, marmoset piRNA clusters are also found on the X chromosome, suggesting escape from meiotic sex chromosome inactivation by the X-linked clusters. Some of the piRNA clusters identified contain antisense-orientated pseudogenes, suggesting the possibility that pseudogene-derived piRNAs may regulate parental functional protein-coding genes. More piRNAs map to transposable element (TE) subfamilies when they have copies in piRNA clusters. In addition, the strand bias observed for piRNAs mapped to each TE subfamily correlates with the polarity of copies inserted in clusters. These findings suggest that pachytene piRNA clusters determine the abundance and strand-bias of TE-derived piRNAs, may regulate protein-coding genes via pseudogene-derived piRNAs, and may even play roles in meiosis in the adult marmoset testis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas