piRNA biology and germline genome stability
piRNAs are animal-specific small RNAs usually restricted to the germline and required for fertility. In 2008 we identified the piRNAs of C. elegans. We have demonstrated that Piwi proteins and piRNAs are important for gemline development and fertility. In the absence of piRNAs germline genome integrity is compromised and consequently piRNAs have been called “guardians of the genome”. Now we are investigating how piRNAs are generated in the germline and how they act to silence their targets. We are also working hard to understand how the piRNA pathway responds to foreign DNA/RNA and how the pathway is evolving.