The Drosophila fragile X mental retardation protein participates in the piRNA pathway
RNA metabolism controls multiple biological processes and a specific class of small RNAs called piRNAs act as genome guardians by silencing the expression of transposons and repetitive sequences in the gonads. Defects in the piRNA pathway affect genome integrity and fertility. The possible implications in physiopathological mechanisms of human diseases have made the piRNA pathway the object of intense investigation and recent work suggests that there is a role for this pathway in somatic processes including synaptic plasticity. The RNA-binding fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP also known as FMR1) controls translation and its loss triggers the most frequent syndromic form of mental retardation as well as gonadal defects in humans. Here we demonstrate for the first time that germline as well as somatic expression of Drosophila Fmr1 (denoted dFmr1) the Drosophila ortholog of FMRP are necessary in a pathway mediated by piRNAs. Moreover dFmr1 interacts genetically and biochemically with Aubergine an Argonaute protein and a key player in this pathway. Our data provide novel perspectives for understanding the phenotypes observed in Fragile X patients and support the view that piRNAs might be at work in the nervous system. © 2015.