Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Biological Sciences BS


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Alex Flynt, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences


PIWI proteins are well known for their various roles and localization in germline development of diverse organisms, yet their specific role and function in somatic tissue remains elusive. PIWI proteins are essential for the biogenesis of PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA), silencing mechanisms, sexual reproduction, and regeneration. piRNAs are PIWI bound RNAs that play an essential role in transposon silencing. PIWI and piRNAs expression and localization have been discovered in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster and mice; however, its localization in the C. teleta annelid is currently unknown and the subject remains an active area of research. In the present study, the localization of two PIWI paralogs were analyzed using the process of immunostaining to demonstrate its expression in somatic cells. The presence of PIWI proteins were confirmed using the Western Blot technique and immunofluorescences; observations of PIWI proteins localization were found in the nuclei of early-stage embryos and the cytoplasmic follicles of larvae. This indicates that PIWI proteins are in fact expressed in the C. teleta somatic tissue and there is an autonomous function of PIWI in both somatic and germline cells. The results of this experiment provide new insights on the function of PIWI proteins in invertebrate somatic cells and can be applied to build on the knowledge of small RNA biology.