A piRNA-like small RNA interacts with and modulates p-ERM proteins in human somatic cells

Yuping Mei, Yuyan Wang, Priti Kumari, Amol Carl Shetty, David Clark, Tyler Gable, Alexander D. MacKerell, Mark Z. Ma, David J. Weber, Austin J. Yang, Martin J. Edelman, Li Mao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are thought to silence transposon and gene expression during development. However, the roles of piRNAs in somatic tissues are largely unknown. Here we report the identification of 555 piRNAs in human lung bronchial epithelial (HBE) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines, including 295 that do not exist in databases termed as piRNA-like sncRNAs or piRNA-Ls. Distinctive piRNA/piRNA-L expression patterns are observed between HBE and NSCLC cells. piRNA-like-163 (piR-L-163), the top downregulated piRNA-L in NSCLC cells, binds directly to phosphorylated ERM proteins (p-ERM), which is dependent on the central part of UUNNUUUNNUU motif in piR-L-163 and the RRRKPDT element in ERM. The piR-L-163/p-ERM interaction is critical for p-ERM's binding capability to filamentous actin (F-actin) and ERM-binding phosphoprotein 50 (EBP50). Thus, piRNA/piRNA-L may play a regulatory role through direct interaction with proteins in physiological and pathophysiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7316
Pages (from-to)7316
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - Jun 22 2015


  • Actins/metabolism
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Bronchi/cytology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung/genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins/metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Lung Neoplasms/genetics
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Membrane Proteins/metabolism
  • Microfilament Proteins/metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins/metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering/metabolism
  • Respiratory Mucosa/metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sodium-Hydrogen Exchangers/metabolism


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