Summary: Piwi domain
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Structure of the Pyrococcus furiosus Argonaute protein.
Piwi (or PIWI) genes were identified as regulatory proteins responsible for stem cell and germ cell differentiation. Piwi is an abbreviation of P-element Induced WImpy testis in Drosophila. Piwi proteins are highly conserved RNA-binding proteins and are present in both plants and animals. Piwi proteins belong to the Argonaute/Piwi family and have been classified as nuclear proteins. Studies on Drosophila have also indicated that Piwi proteins have slicer activity conferred by the presence of the Piwi domain. In addition, Piwi associates with Heterochromatin protein 1, an epigenetic modifier, and piRNA-complementary sequences. These are indications of the role Piwi plays in epigenetic regulation. Piwi proteins are also thought to control the biogenesis of piRNA as many Piwi-like proteins contain slicer activity which would allow Piwi proteins to process precursor piRNA into mature piRNA.
Protein structure and function
The structure of several Piwi and Argonaute proteins (Ago) have been solved. Piwi proteins are RNA-binding proteins with 2 or 3 domains: The N-terminal PAZ domain binds the 3'-end of the guide RNA; the middle MID domain binds the 5'-phosphate of RNA; and the C-terminal PIWI domain acts as an RNase H endonuclease that can cleave RNA. The small RNA partners of Ago proteins are microRNAs (miRNAs). Ago proteins utilize miRNAs to silence genes post-transcriptionally or use small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in both transcription and post-transcription silencing mechanisms. Piwi proteins interact with piRNAs (28–33 nucleotides) that are longer than miRNAs and siRNAs (~20 nucleotides), suggesting that their functions are distinct from those of Ago proteins.
Human Piwi proteins
Presently there are four known human Piwi proteins—PIWI-like protein 1, PIWI-like protein 2, PIWI-like protein 3 and PIWI-like protein 4. Human Piwi proteins all contain two RNA binding domains, PAZ and Piwi. The four PIWI-like proteins have a spacious binding site within the PAZ domain which allows them to bind the bulky 2’-OCH3 at the 3’ end of piwi-interacting RNA.
Homologous proteins in mice have been called miwi (for mouse piwi).
Role in germline cells
PIWI proteins play a crucial role in fertility and germline development across animals and ciliates. Recently identified as a polar granule component, PIWI proteins appear to control germ cell formation so much so that in the absence of PIWI proteins there is a significant decrease in germ cell formation. Similar observations were made with the mouse homologs of PIWI, MILI, MIWI and MIWI2. These homologs are known to be present in spermatogenesis. Miwi is expressed in various stages of spermatocyte formation and spermatid elongation where Miwi2 is expressed in Sertoli cells. Mice deficient in either Mili or Miwi-2 have experienced spermatogenic stem cell arrest and those lacking Miwi-2 underwent a degradation of spermatogonia. The effects of piwi proteins in human and mouse germlines seems to stem from their involvement in translation control as Piwi and the small noncoding RNA, piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA), have been known to co-fractionate polysomes. The piwi-piRNA pathway also induces heterochromatin formation at centromeres, thus affecting transcription. The piwi-piRNA pathway also appears to protect the genome. First observed in Drosophila, mutant piwi-piRNA pathways led to a direct increase in dsDNA breaks in ovarian germ cells. The role of the piwi-piRNA pathway in transposon silencing may be responsible for the reduction in dsDNA breaks in germ cells.
Role in RNA interference
The piwi domain is a protein domain found in piwi proteins and a large number of related nucleic acid-binding proteins, especially those that bind and cleave RNA. The function of the domain is double stranded-RNA-guided hydrolysis of single stranded-RNA that has been determined in the argonaute family of related proteins. Argonautes, the most well-studied family of nucleic-acid binding proteins, are RNase H-like enzymes that carry out the catalytic functions of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC). In the well-known cellular process of RNA interference, the argonaute protein in the RISC complex can bind both small interfering RNA (siRNA) generated from exogenous double-stranded RNA and microRNA (miRNA) generated from endogenous non-coding RNA, both produced by the ribonuclease Dicer, to form an RNA-RISC complex. This complex binds and cleaves complementary base pairing messenger RNA, destroying it and preventing its translation into protein. Crystallised piwi domains have a conserved basic binding site for the 5' end of bound RNA; in the case of argonaute proteins binding siRNA strands, the last unpaired nucleotide base of the siRNA is also stabilised by base stacking-interactions between the base and neighbouring tyrosine residues.
Recent evidence suggests that the functional role of piwi proteins in germ-line determination is due to their capacity to interact with miRNAs. Components of the miRNA pathway appear to be present in pole plasm and to play a key role in early development and morphogenesis of Drosophila melanogaster embryos, in which germ-line maintenance has been extensively studied.
piRNAs and transposon silencing
Recently, a novel class of longer-than-average miRNAs known as Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) has been defined in mammalian cells, about 26-31 nucleotides long as compared to the more typical miRNA or siRNA of about 21 nucleotides. These piRNAs are expressed mainly in spermatogenic cells in the testes of mammals. However recent studies have reported that piRNA expression can be found in the ovarian somatic cells and neuron cells in invertebrates, as well as in many other mammalian somatic cells. piRNAs have been identified in the genomes of mice, rats, and humans, with an unusual "clustered" genomic organization that may originate from repetitive regions of the genome such as retrotransposons or regions normally organized into heterochromatin, and which are normally derived exclusively from the antisense strand of double-stranded RNA. piRNAs have thus been classified as repeat-associated small interfering RNAs (rasiRNAs). Although their biogenesis is not yet well understood, piRNAs and Piwi proteins are thought to form an endogenous system for silencing the expression of selfish genetic elements such as retrotransposons and thus preventing the gene products of such sequences from interfering with germ cell formation.
- Rivas FV, Tolia NH, Song JJ, et al. (April 2005). "Purified Argonaute2 and an siRNA form recombinant human RISC". Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 12 (4): 340–9. doi:10.1038/nsmb918. PMID 15800637.
- "Uniprot: The Universal knowledge database". Nucleic Acids Research. 45 (D1): D158–D169. 2017. doi:10.1093/nar/gkw1099.
- Lindse K (2013). "Piwi-RNAs, the Defenders of the Genome".
- Cox DN, Chao A, Lin H (2000). "piwi encodes a nucleoplasmic factor whose activity modulates the number and division rate of germline stem cells". Development. 127 (3): 503–14. PMID 10631171.
- Lin H, Spradling AC (1997). "A novel group of pumilio mutations affects the asymmetric division of germline stem cells in the Drosophila ovary". Development. 124 (12): 2463–2476. PMID 9199372.
- Cox DN, Chao A, Baker J, Chang L, Qiao D, Lin H (1998). "A novel class of evolutionarily conserved genes defined by piwi are essential for stem cell self-renewal". Genes Dev. 12 (23): 3715–27. doi:10.1101/gad.12.23.3715. PMC . PMID 9851978.
- Darricarrere N, Liu N, Watanabe T, Lin H (2013). "Function of Piwi, a nuclear Piwi/Argonaute protein, is independent of its slicer activity". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 110 (6): 1297–1302. doi:10.1073/pnas.1213283110. PMC .
- Zeng, Lei; Zhang, Qiang; Yan, Kelley; Zhou, Ming-Ming (2011-06-01). "Structural insights into piRNA recognition by the human PIWI-like 1 PAZ domain". Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics. 79 (6): 2004–2009. doi:10.1002/prot.23003. ISSN 1097-0134. PMC .
- Wei, Kai-Fa; Wu, Ling-Juan; Chen, Juan; Chen, Yan-feng; Xie, Dao-Xin (August 2012). "Structural evolution and functional diversification analyses of argonaute protein". Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. 113 (8): 2576–2585. doi:10.1002/jcb.24133. ISSN 1097-4644. PMID 22415963.
- Tian Y, Simanshu D, Ma J, Patel D (2010). "Structural basis for piRNA 2'-O-methylated 3'-end recognition by Piwi PAZ (Piwi/Argonaute/Zwille) domains". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 108 (3): 903–910. doi:10.1073/pnas.1017762108. PMC .
- Qiao D, Zeeman AM, Deng W, Looijenga LH, Lin H (2002). "Molecular characterization of hiwi, a human member of the piwi gene family whose overexpression is correlated to seminomas". Oncogene. 21 (25): 3988–99. doi:10.1038/sj.onc.1205505. PMID 12037681.
- Deng W, Lin H (2002). "miwi, a murine homolog of piwi, encodes a cytoplasmic protein essential for spermatogenesis". Dev Cell. 2 (6): 819–30. doi:10.1016/s1534-5807(02)00165-x. PMID 12062093.
- Mani S, Juliano C (2013). "Untangling the Web: The Diverse Functions of the PIWI/piRNA Pathway". Mol. Reprod. Dev. 80 (8): 632–664. doi:10.1002/mrd.22195.
- Thomson T, Lin H (2009). "The Biogenesis and Function PIWI Proteins and piRNAs: Progress and Prospect". Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 25: 355–376. doi:10.1146/annurev.cellbio.24.110707.175327.
- Cerutti L, Mian N, Bateman A (October 2000). "Domains in gene silencing and cell differentiation proteins: the novel PAZ domain and redefinition of the Piwi domain". Trends Biochem. Sci. 25 (10): 481–2. doi:10.1016/S0968-0004(00)01641-8. PMID 11050429.
- Ma J, Yuan Y, Meister G, Pei Y, Tuschl T, Patel D (2005). "Structural basis for 5'-end-specific recognition of guide RNA by the A. fulgidus Piwi protein". Nature. 434 (7033): 666–70. doi:10.1038/nature03514. PMID 15800629.
- Megosh HB, Cox DN, Campbell C, Lin H (2006). "The role of PIWI and the miRNA machinery in Drosophila germline determination". Curr Biol. 16 (19): 1884–94. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.08.051. PMID 16949822.
- Kim VN (2006). "Small RNAs just got bigger: Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) in mammalian testes". Genes Dev. 20 (15): 1993–7. doi:10.1101/gad.1456106. PMID 16882976.
- Girard A, Sachidanandam R, Hannon GJ, Carmell MA (2006). "A germline-specific class of small RNAs binds mammalian Piwi proteins". Nature. 442 (7099): 199–202. doi:10.1038/nature04917. PMID 16751776.
- Vagin VV, Sigova A, Li C, Seitz H, Gvozdev V, Zamore PD (2006). "A distinct small RNA pathway silences selfish genetic elements in the germline". Science. 313 (5785): 320–4. doi:10.1126/science.1129333. PMID 16809489.
- Saito K, Nishida KM, Mori T, Kawamura Y, Miyoshi K, Nagami T, Siomi H, Siomi MC (2006). "Specific association of Piwi with rasiRNAs derived from retrotransposon and heterochromatic regions in the Drosophila genome". Genes Dev. 20 (16): 2214–22. doi:10.1101/gad.1454806. PMC . PMID 16882972.
This tab holds the annotation information that is stored in the Pfam database. As we move to using Wikipedia as our main source of annotation, the contents of this tab will be gradually replaced by the Wikipedia tab.
Piwi domain Provide feedback
This domain is found in the protein Piwi and its relatives. The function of this domain is the dsRNA guided hydrolysis of ssRNA. Determination of the crystal structure of Argonaute reveals that PIWI is an RNase H domain, and identifies Argonaute as Slicer, the enzyme that cleaves mRNA in the RNAi RISC complex . In addition, Mg+2 dependence and production of 3'-OH and 5' phosphate products are shared characteristics of RNaseH and RISC. The PIWI domain core has a tertiary structure belonging to the RNase H family of enzymes. RNase H fold proteins all have a five-stranded mixed beta-sheet surrounded by helices. By analogy to RNase H enzymes which cleave single-stranded RNA guided by the DNA strand in an RNA/DNA hybrid, the PIWI domain can be inferred to cleave single-stranded RNA, for example mRNA, guided by double stranded siRNA.
Cerutti L, Mian N, Bateman A; , Trends Biochem Sci 2000;25:481-482.: Domains in gene silencing and cell differentiation proteins: the novel PAZ domain and redefinition of the Piwi domain. PUBMED:11050429 EPMC:11050429
This tab holds annotation information from the InterPro database.
InterPro entry IPR003165The piwi domain [PUBMED:11050429] is a protein domain found in piwi proteins and a large number of related nucleic acid-binding proteins, especially those that bind and cleave RNA. The function of the domain is double stranded-RNA-guided hydrolysis of single stranded-RNA, as has been determined in the argonaute family of related proteins [PUBMED:15284453].
The mapping between Pfam and Gene Ontology is provided by InterPro. If you use this data please cite InterPro.
|Molecular function||nucleic acid binding (GO:0003676)|
Below is a listing of the unique domain organisations or architectures in which this domain is found. More...
The graphic that is shown by default represents the longest sequence with a given architecture. Each row contains the following information:
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a textual description of the architecture, e.g. Gla, EGF x 2, Trypsin.
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This clan includes a diverse set of nucleases that share a similar structure to Ribonuclease H.
The clan contains the following 52 members:Arena_ncap_C CAF1 DDE_1 DDE_2 DDE_3 DDE_5 DDE_Tnp_1 DDE_Tnp_1_2 DDE_Tnp_1_3 DDE_Tnp_1_4 DDE_Tnp_1_5 DDE_Tnp_1_6 DDE_Tnp_1_7 DDE_Tnp_2 DDE_Tnp_4 DDE_Tnp_IS1 DDE_Tnp_IS1595 DDE_Tnp_IS240 DDE_Tnp_IS66 DDE_Tnp_ISAZ013 DDE_Tnp_ISL3 DNA_pol_A_exo1 DNA_pol_B_exo1 DNA_pol_B_exo2 DUF2779 DUF3882 DUF4152 DUF5051 Maelstrom MULE NurA OrfB_IS605 Piwi Plant_tran Pox_A22 RNase_H RNase_H_2 RNase_HII RNase_T RNaseH_like RuvC rve rve_2 rve_3 RVT_3 Taq-exonuc Terminase_3C Terminase_6C Transposase_1 Transposase_mut UPF0236 Ydc2-catalyt
We store a range of different sequence alignments for families. As well as the seed alignment from which the family is built, we provide the full alignment, generated by searching the sequence database (reference proteomes) using the family HMM. We also generate alignments using four representative proteomes (RP) sets, the UniProtKB sequence database, the NCBI sequence database, and our metagenomics sequence database. More...
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We make a range of alignments for each Pfam-A family:
- the curated alignment from which the HMM for the family is built
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- Representative Proteomes (RPs) at 15%, 35%, 55% and 75% co-membership thresholds
- alignment generated by searching the UniProtKB sequence database using the family HMM
- alignment generated by searching the NCBI sequence database using the family HMM
- alignment generated by searching the metagenomics sequence database using the family HMM
You can see the alignments as HTML or in three different sequence viewers:
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We make a range of alignments for each Pfam-A family. You can see a description of each above. You can view these alignments in various ways but please note that some types of alignment are never generated while others may not be available for all families, most commonly because the alignments are too large to handle.
1Cannot generate PP/Heatmap alignments for seeds; no PP data available
Key: available, not generated, — not available.
Format an alignment
We make all of our alignments available in Stockholm format. You can download them here as raw, plain text files or as gzip-compressed files.
You can also download a FASTA format file containing the full-length sequences for all sequences in the full alignment.
HMM logos is one way of visualising profile HMMs. Logos provide a quick overview of the properties of an HMM in a graphical form. You can see a more detailed description of HMM logos and find out how you can interpret them here. More...
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This page displays the phylogenetic tree for this family's seed alignment. We use FastTree to calculate neighbour join trees with a local bootstrap based on 100 resamples (shown next to the tree nodes). FastTree calculates approximately-maximum-likelihood phylogenetic trees from our seed alignment.
Note: You can also download the data file for the tree.
Curation and family details
This section shows the detailed information about the Pfam family. You can see the definitions of many of the terms in this section in the glossary and a fuller explanation of the scoring system that we use in the scores section of the help pages.
|Seed source:||Bateman A|
|Author:||Bateman A, Hammonds G|
|Number in seed:||16|
|Number in full:||5084|
|Average length of the domain:||265.30 aa|
|Average identity of full alignment:||33 %|
|Average coverage of the sequence by the domain:||33.81 %|
|HMM build commands:||
build method: hmmbuild -o /dev/null HMM SEED
search method: hmmsearch -Z 26740544 -E 1000 --cpu 4 HMM pfamseq
|Family (HMM) version:||16|
|Download:||download the raw HMM for this family|
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This visualisation provides a simple graphical representation of the distribution of this family across species. You can find the original interactive tree in the More....
This chart is a modified "sunburst" visualisation of the species tree for this family. It shows each node in the tree as a separate arc, arranged radially with the superkingdoms at the centre and the species arrayed around the outermost ring.
How the sunburst is generated
The tree is built by considering the taxonomic lineage of each sequence that has a match to this family. For each node in the resulting tree, we draw an arc in the sunburst. The radius of the arc, its distance from the root node at the centre of the sunburst, shows the taxonomic level ("superkingdom", "kingdom", etc). The length of the arc represents either the number of sequences represented at a given level, or the number of species that are found beneath the node in the tree. The weighting scheme can be changed using the sunburst controls.
In order to reduce the complexity of the representation, we reduce the number of taxonomic levels that we show. We consider only the following eight major taxonomic levels:
Colouring and labels
Segments of the tree are coloured approximately according to their superkingdom. For example, archeal branches are coloured with shades of orange, eukaryotes in shades of purple, etc. The colour assignments are shown under the sunburst controls. Where space allows, the name of the taxonomic level will be written on the arc itself.
As you move your mouse across the sunburst, the current node will be highlighted. In the top section of the controls panel we show a summary of the lineage of the currently highlighed node. If you pause over an arc, a tooltip will be shown, giving the name of the taxonomic level in the title and a summary of the number of sequences and species below that node in the tree.
Anomalies in the taxonomy tree
There are some situations that the sunburst tree cannot easily handle and for which we have work-arounds in place.
Missing taxonomic levels
Some species in the taxonomic tree may not have one or more of the main eight levels that we display. For example, Bos taurus is not assigned an order in the NCBI taxonomic tree. In such cases we mark the omitted level with, for example, "No order", in both the tooltip and the lineage summary.
Unmapped species names
The tree is built by looking at each sequence in the full alignment for the family. We take the name of the species given by UniProt and try to map that to the full taxonomic tree from NCBI. In some cases, the name chosen by UniProt does not map to any node in the NCBI tree, perhaps because the chosen name is listed as a synonym or a misspelling in the NCBI taxonomy.
So that these nodes are not simply omitted from the sunburst tree, we group them together in a separate branch (or segment of the sunburst tree). Since we cannot determine the lineage for these unmapped species, we show all levels between the superkingdom and the species as "uncategorised".
Since we reduce the species tree to only the eight main taxonomic levels, sequences that are mapped to the sub-species level in the tree would not normally be shown. Rather than leave out these species, we map them instead to their parent species. So, for example, for sequences belonging to one of the Vibrio cholerae sub-species in the NCBI taxonomy, we show them instead as belonging to the species Vibrio cholerae.
Too many species/sequences
For large species trees, you may see blank regions in the outer layers of the sunburst. These occur when there are large numbers of arcs to be drawn in a small space. If an arc is less than approximately one pixel wide, it will not be drawn and the space will be left blank. You may still be able to get some information about the species in that region by moving your mouse across the area, but since each arc will be very small, it will be difficult to accurately locate a particular species.
The tree shows the occurrence of this domain across different species. More...
We show the species tree in one of two ways. For smaller trees we try to show an interactive representation, which allows you to select specific nodes in the tree and view them as an alignment or as a set of Pfam domain graphics.
Unfortunately we have found that there are problems viewing the interactive tree when the it becomes larger than a certain limit. Furthermore, we have found that Internet Explorer can become unresponsive when viewing some trees, regardless of their size. We therefore show a text representation of the species tree when the size is above a certain limit or if you are using Internet Explorer to view the site.
If you are using IE you can still load the interactive tree by clicking the "Generate interactive tree" button, but please be aware of the potential problems that the interactive species tree can cause.
For all of the domain matches in a full alignment, we count the number that are found on all sequences in the alignment. This total is shown in the purple box.
We also count the number of unique sequences on which each domain is found, which is shown in green. Note that a domain may appear multiple times on the same sequence, leading to the difference between these two numbers.
Finally, we group sequences from the same organism according to the NCBI code that is assigned by UniProt, allowing us to count the number of distinct sequences on which the domain is found. This value is shown in the pink boxes.
We use the NCBI species tree to group organisms according to their taxonomy and this forms the structure of the displayed tree. Note that in some cases the trees are too large (have too many nodes) to allow us to build an interactive tree, but in most cases you can still view the tree in a plain text, non-interactive representation. Those species which are represented in the seed alignment for this domain are highlighted.
You can use the tree controls to manipulate how the interactive tree is displayed:
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Please note: for large trees this can take some time. While the tree is loading, you can safely switch away from this tab but if you browse away from the family page entirely, the tree will not be loaded.
There are 4 interactions for this family. More...
We determine these interactions using iPfam, which considers the interactions between residues in three-dimensional protein structures and maps those interactions back to Pfam families. You can find more information about the iPfam algorithm in the journal article that accompanies the website.
For those sequences which have a structure in the Protein DataBank, we use the mapping between UniProt, PDB and Pfam coordinate systems from the PDBe group, to allow us to map Pfam domains onto UniProt sequences and three-dimensional protein structures. The table below shows the structures on which the Piwi domain has been found. There are 109 instances of this domain found in the PDB. Note that there may be multiple copies of the domain in a single PDB structure, since many structures contain multiple copies of the same protein sequence.
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