Role of PIWI-Interacting RNA (piRNA) as Epigenetic Regulation

  • Danielle Queiroz CalcagnoEmail author
  • Elizangela Rodrigues da Silva Mota
  • Fabiano Cordeiro Moreira
  • Stefanie Braga Maia de Sousa
  • Rommel Rodríguez Burbano
  • Paulo Pimentel Assumpção
Reference work entry


PIWI-interacting RNAs are a distinct group of small noncoding RNAs that are abundantly expressed in the animal germ line and are involved in silencing transposable genetic elements to maintain genome integrity. Accumulating evidence suggests that PIWI-interacting RNAs are also capable of mediating DNA methylation and thus can silence genes related to cancer, acting either as tumor suppressors or oncogenes. In recent years, several studies have significantly improved the understanding of PIWI-interacting RNA biogenesis, characterization, and function. Here, we discuss these recent findings and highlight some aspects of the role of PIWI-interacting RNAs in epigenetic modifications, the possible cancer implications and the effect of nutrition. Finally, we provide a brief description of the PIWI-interacting RNAs data analysis workflow and suggest some potential biological and clinical applications of these important molecules.


ncRNA piRNA PIWI Primary biogenesis Ping-pong amplification AUB AGO3 Epigenetic regulation DNA methylation Histone modification Transposable elements Cancer piRNA-seq 

List of Abbreviation


Adenosine at position 10


Argonaute 3




Chromatin immunoprecipitation


Circulating tumor cells


Differentially methylated region


DNA-methyltransferase 3-like


DNA methyltransferases


Epithelial mesenchymal transition




Follicle-stimulating hormone


Histone H3 lysine 9


Hen methyltransferase homolog 1


Histone methyltransferases


Heterochromatin 1 protein


Long interspersed element-1


Long noncoding RNAs


Messenger RNA




Noncoding RNAs


Next-generation sequencing




piRNA-Induced silencing complex


PIWI-interacting RNAs


piRNA sequencing


P-element Induced Wimpy Testis


Poly(A)-specific ribonuclease PARN-like domain-containing protein 1


piRNA precursor




Symmetric dimethylarginines


Small interfering RNAs


Single-stranded RNA

Su (var) 3–9

Suppressor of variegation 3–9


Tudor domain


Transposable elements




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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danielle Queiroz Calcagno
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizangela Rodrigues da Silva Mota
    • 1
  • Fabiano Cordeiro Moreira
    • 1
  • Stefanie Braga Maia de Sousa
    • 1
  • Rommel Rodríguez Burbano
    • 2
  • Paulo Pimentel Assumpção
    • 1
  1. 1.Núcleo de Pesquisas em OncologiaUniversidade Federal do ParáBelémBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Biologia MolecularHospital Ophir LoyolaBelémBrazil

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