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Keywords:

  • histone modifications;
  • piRNA;
  • somatic regulation;
  • transposable elements

Transposable elements (TEs), whose propagation can result in severe damage to the host genome, are silenced in the animal gonad by Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). piRNAs produced in the ovaries are deposited in the embryonic germline and initiate TE repression in the germline progeny. Whether the maternally transmitted piRNAs play a role in the silencing of somatic TEs is however unknown. Here we show that maternally transmitted piRNAs from the tirant retrotransposon in Drosophila are required for the somatic silencing of the TE and correlate with an increase in histone H3K9 trimethylation an active tirant copy.