M Munafò, V Manelli, FA Falconio, A Sawle, E Kneuss, EL Eastwood, JWE Seah, B Czech, GJ Hannon
The Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway is a small RNA-based immune system that silences mobile genetic elements in animal germlines. piRNA biogenesis requires a specialized machinery that converts long single-stranded precursors into small RNAs of ∼25-nucleotides in length. This process involves factors that operate in two different subcellular compartments: the nuage/Yb body and mitochondria. How these two sites communicate to achieve accurate substrate selection and efficient processing remains unclear. Here, we investigate a previously uncharacterized piRNA biogenesis factor, Daedalus (Daed), that is located on the outer mitochondrial membrane. Daed is essential for Zucchini-mediated piRNA production and the correct localization of the indispensable piRNA biogenesis factor Armitage (Armi). We found that Gasz and Daed interact with each other and likely provide a mitochondrial "anchoring platform" to ensure that Armi is held in place, proximal to Zucchini, during piRNA processing. Our data suggest that Armi initially identifies piRNA precursors in nuage/Yb bodies in a manner that depends on Piwi and then moves to mitochondria to present precursors to the mitochondrial biogenesis machinery. These results represent a significant step in understanding a critical aspect of transposon silencing; namely, how RNAs are chosen to instruct the piRNA machinery in the nature of its silencing targets.