The PiWi family of genes may have a diminutive sounding name, but they have a large role in the function of the germline and germline stem cells. Initially discovered in Drosophila, these highly conserved RNA-binding proteins have well-established roles in the regulation of spermatogenesis and germ stem cell maintenance, in addition to silencing transposable elements. However, PiWi function outside of the germline is relatively unexplored. New findings from the Lin laboratory show that Drosophila Piwi has a role in intestinal homeostasis where it functions to establish intestinal stem cells, maintain the enteroblast lineage, and support of the enterocytes. It also has a role in silencing retrotransposons of the gut. Collectively, these intestinal roles of PiWi are critical to organismal longevity as the loss of PiWi leads to a shortened lifespan in the fly.
Martin Pera is joined by scientists Drs. Haifan Lin and Xiongzhuo Tang. Dr. Lin is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology and the Founding Director of the Yale Stem Cell Center. Among his many achievements, Haifan is a member of US National Academy of Sciences, a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Foreign Member of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is currently the president of the ISSCR.
Xiongzhuo Tang was a postdoctoral fellow in the Lin laboratory and is now a professor in the Animal and Nutritional Genome and Germplasm Innovation Research Center in the College of Animal Science and Technology at the Hunan Agricultural University in Hunan China.
Drs. Lin and Tang are authors of the recent paper published in Stem Cell Reports entitled, Piwi maintains homeostasis in the Drosophila adult intestine.
Haifan Lin, PhD, Yale University
Xiongzhuo Tang, PhD, Hunan Agricultural University
Piwi maintains homeostasis in the Drosophila adult intestine, Tang, et al., Stem Cell Reports (2023)
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