Altered expression of porcine Piwi genes and piRNA during development.
Three Sus scrofa Piwi genes (Piwil1, Piwil2 and Piwil4) encoding proteins of 861, 985 and 853 aminoacids, respectively, were cloned and sequenced. Alignment of the Piwi proteins showed the high identity between Sus scrofa and Homo sapiens. Relative transcript abundance of porcine Piwil1, Piwil2 and Piwil4 genes in testes, ovaries and oocytes derived from sexually immature and mature animals was examined using Real-Time PCR. Expression of the three Piwi mRNAs was proved to be tissue specific and restricted exclusively to the gonads. In testes of adult pigs the highest relative transcript abundance was observed for the Sus scrofa Piwil1 gene. On the other hand, in testes of neonatal pigs the Piwil1 transcript level was over 2-fold reduced while the level of Piwil2 transcript was higher. As regards the expression of the Piwil4 transcript, its level was 34-fold elevated in testes of neonatal piglet when compared to adult male. In ovaries of prepubertal and pubertal female pigs transcript abundance of the three Piwi genes was significantly reduced in comparison with testes. However, similarly to testes, in ovaries of neonatal pigs the Piwil2 gene was characterized by the highest relative transcript abundance among the three Piwi genes analysed. In prepubertal and pubertal oocytes Piwil1 transcript was the most abundant whereas the expression of Piwil4 was undetectable. We also demonstrated that expression of piRNA occurs preferentially in the gonads of adult male and female pigs. Moreover, a piRNA subset isolated from ovaries was 2-3 nucleotides longer than the piRNA from testes.