How might flukes and tapeworms maintain genome integrity without a canonical piRNA pathway?

Danielle E. Skinner, Gabriel Rinaldi, Uriel Koziol, Klaus Brehm, Paul J. Brindley

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Surveillance by RNA interference is central to controlling the mobilization of transposable elements (TEs). In stem cells, Piwi argonaute (Ago) proteins and associated proteins repress mobilization of TEs to maintain genome integrity. This defense mechanism targeting TEs is termed the Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway. In this opinion article, we draw attention to the situation that the genomes of cestodes and trematodes have lost the piwi and vasa genes that are hallmark characters of the germline multipotency program. This absence of Piwi-like Agos and Vasa helicases prompts the question: how does the germline of these flatworms withstand mobilization of TEs? Here, we present an interpretation of mechanisms likely to defend the germline integrity of parasitic flatworms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Argonaute
  • Cestoda
  • Germline
  • PiRNA pathway
  • Piwi
  • Platyhelminthes
  • Transposable elements
  • Trematoda
  • Vasa
  • RNA, Small Interfering/genetics
  • Cestoda/genetics
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases/genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Argonaute Proteins/genetics
  • Genomic Instability/genetics
  • Animals
  • Trematoda/genetics
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


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