Small noncoding RNAs (sncRNAs) are pieces of RNA with a length below 200 bp and represent a diverse group of RNAs having many different biological functions. The best described subtype is the microRNAs which primarily function in posttranscriptional gene regulation and appear essential for most physiological processes. Of particular interest for the germline is the PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) which are a class of sncRNA of 21-35 bp in length that are almost exclusively found in germ cells. Recently, it has become clear that piRNAs are essential for testicular function, and in this perspective, we outline the current knowledge of piRNAs in humans. Although piRNAs appear unique to germ cells, they have also been described in various somatic cancers and biofluids. Here, we discuss the potential function of piRNAs in somatic tissues and whether detection in biofluids may be used as a biomarker for testicular function. This article is categorized under: Reproductive System Diseases > Genetics/Genomics/Epigenetics Reproductive System Diseases > Molecular and Cellular Physiology.

TidsskriftWIREs mechanisms of disease
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)1-11
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2022


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