Channel nuclear pore complex subunits are required for transposon silencing in Drosophila

Marzia Munafò, Victoria R Lawless, Alessandro Passera, Serena Macmillan, Susanne Bornelöv, Irmgard U Haussmann, Matthias Soller, Gregory J Hannon, Benjamin Czech

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The nuclear pore complex (NPC) is the principal gateway between nucleus and cytoplasm that enables exchange of macromolecular cargo. Composed of multiple copies of ~30 different nucleoporins (Nups), the NPC acts as a selective portal, interacting with factors which individually license passage of specific cargo classes. Here we show that two Nups of the inner channel, Nup54 and Nup58, are essential for transposon silencing via the PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway in the Drosophila ovary. In ovarian follicle cells, loss of Nup54 and Nup58 results in compromised piRNA biogenesis exclusively from the flamenco locus, whereas knockdowns of other NPC subunits have widespread consequences. This provides evidence that some Nups can acquire specialised roles in tissue-specific contexts. Our findings consolidate the idea that the NPC has functions beyond simply constituting a barrier to nuclear/cytoplasmic exchange as genomic loci subjected to strong selective pressure can exploit NPC subunits to facilitate their expression.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66321
Early online date15 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Vera Manelli and Federica A. Falconio for help with cloning. We thank the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute Bioinformatics, Genomics, Microscopy, RICS, and Proteomics Core Facilities for support, in particular Kamal Kishore and Fadwa Joud. We thank the Life Science Editors, especially Marie Bao, and members of the Hannon lab for feedback and comments on the manuscript. We thank the University of Cambridge Department of Genetics Fly Facility for microinjection services and fly stock generation. We thank the Vienna Drosophila Resource Center and the Bloomington Stock Center for fly stocks. We thank Mikiko Siomi for OSCs and anti-Yb antibody, and Julius Brennecke for anti-Yb antibodies. M.M. was supported by a Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds PhD fellowship. M.S. acknowledges funding from the BBSRC. G.J.H. is a Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor (RP130039). Research in the Hannon laboratory is supported by Cancer Research UK and a Wellcome Trust Investigator award (110161/Z/15/Z).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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