BMB Reports 2019; 52(3): 196-201
Oxidative stress causes Alu RNA accumulation via PIWIL4 sequestration into stress granules
Yeo Eun Hwang, Yu Mi Baek, Ahruem Baek & Dong-Eun Kim*
Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Konkuk University, Seoul 05029, Korea
Correspondence to: Tel: +82-2-2049-6062; Fax: +82-2-3436-6062; E-mail:
Received: July 4, 2018; Revised: July 27, 2018; Accepted: July 30, 2018; Published online: March 31, 2019.
© Korean Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. All rights reserved.

cc This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The Alu element, the most abundant transposable element, is transcribed to Alu RNA. We hypothesized that the PIWI protein regulates the expression of Alu RNA in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, where accumulated Alu RNA leads to macular degeneration. Alu transcription was induced in RPE cells treated with H2O2. At an early stage of oxidative stress, PIWIL4 was translocated into the nucleus; however, subsequently it was sequestered into cytoplasmic stress granules, resulting in the accumulation of Alu RNA. An elevated amount of Alu RNA was positively correlated with the disruption of the epithelial features of RPE via induction of mesenchymal transition. Therefore, we suggest that oxidative stress causes Alu RNA accumulation via PIWIL4 sequestration into the cytoplasmic stress granules.
Keywords: Alu RNA, Oxidative stress, Piwi-like protein 4 (PIWIL4), Stress granule

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