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1.  Evolution of animal Piwi-interacting RNAs and prokaryotic CRISPRs 
Briefings in Functional Genomics  2012;11(4):277-288.
Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) and CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) are two recently discovered classes of small noncoding RNA that are found in animals and prokaryotes, respectively. Both of these novel RNA species function as components of adaptive immune systems that protect their hosts from foreign nucleic acids—piRNAs repress transposable elements in animal germlines, whereas crRNAs protect their bacterial hosts from phage and plasmids. The piRNA and CRISPR systems are nonhomologous but rather have independently evolved into logically similar defense mechanisms based on the specificity of targeting via nucleic acid base complementarity. Here we review what is known about the piRNA and CRISPR systems with a focus on comparing their evolutionary properties. In particular, we highlight the importance of several factors on the pattern of piRNA and CRISPR evolution, including the population genetic environment, the role of alternate defense systems and the mechanisms of acquisition of new piRNAs and CRISPRs.
doi:10.1093/bfgp/els016
PMCID: PMC3398257  PMID: 22539610
piRNA; CRISPR; co-evolution; transposable elements; phage; plasmids

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