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For a long time, both the biogenesis of PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) as well as their mode of gene silencing has remained elusive. A recent body of work is shedding more light on both aspects and implicates PIWI in the establishment of transgenerational epigenetic states. In fact, the epigenetic states imposed by PIWI on targets may actually drive piRNA production itself. These findings start to couple small RNA biogenesis with small-RNA-mediated epigenetics.
(Luteijn and Ketting 2013) PIWI-interacting RNAs: from generation to transgenerational epigenetics. Nat Rev Genet.