The germline genome is guarded against invading foreign genetic elements by small RNA-dependent gene-silencing pathways. Components of these pathways localize to, or form distinct aggregates in the vicinity of, germ granules. These components and their dynamics in and out of granules are currently being intensively studied. Here, we report the identification of PLP-1, a Caenorhabditiselegans protein related to the human single-stranded nucleic acid-binding protein Pur-alpha, as a component of germ granules in C. elegans We show that PLP-1 is essential for silencing different types of transgenes in the germ line and for suppressing the expression of several endogenous genes controlled by the germline gene-silencing pathways. Our results reveal that PLP-1 functions downstream of small RNA biogenesis during initiation of gene silencing. Based on these results and the earlier findings that Pur-alpha proteins interact with both RNA and protein, we propose that PLP-1 couples certain RNAs with their protein partners in the silencing complex. PLP-1 orthologs localized on RNA granules may similarly contribute to germline gene silencing in other organisms. © 2020. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.