Title

Investigating piRNA expression and function in regenerating tissue of segmented annelid Capitella teleta

Date of Award

5-2021

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Biological Sciences BS

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Alex Flynt, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Regeneration can be observed virtually in all animals and previous studies have identified numerous genes involved in this process. In some invertebrates, the P-element induced wimpy testis (PIWI) genes appear to have an essential role. One such organism is Capitella teleta, a widely accepted model for annelid development. PIWI proteins are associated with small non-coding RNA called PIWI-interacting RNAs or piRNAs, which are involved in transposon silencing in the germline cells of many animals. It was previously believed that these proteins were only expressed in germline cells, however, recent studies have shown expression in somatic tissues as well. The function of piRNAs in somatic tissues is not well-understood. In this study, RNA samples were collected from the regenerating tissue of C. teleta and sequenced to explore the function of piRNAs in this process. Analysis of these data indicated that piRNAs are targeting genes involved in apoptosis and the repression of transposable elements. These results demonstrate that piRNAs influence the regeneration process in annelids through both promoting cell survival and maintaining genome integrity.

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