Plants and animals use small RNAs (microRNAs [miRNAs] and siRNAs) as guides for posttranscriptional and epigenetic regulation. In plants, miRNAs and trans-acting (ta) siRNAs form through distinct biogenesis pathways, although they both interact with target transcripts and guide cleavage. An integrated approach to identify targets of Arabidopsis thaliana miRNAs and ta-siRNAs revealed several new classes of small RNA-regulated genes, including conventional genes such as Argonaute2 and an E2-ubiquitin conjugating enzyme. Surprisingly, five ta-siRNA-generating transcripts were identified as targets of miR173 or miR390. Rather than functioning as negative regulators, miR173- and miR390-guided cleavage was shown to set the 21-nucleotide phase for ta-siRNA precursor processing. These data support a model in which miRNA-guided formation of a 5' or 3' terminus within pre-ta-siRNA transcripts, followed by RDR6-dependent formation of dsRNA and Dicer-like processing, yields phased ta-siRNAs that negatively regulate other genes.
In plants, microRNAs (miRNAs) comprise one of two classes of small RNAs that function primarily as negative regulators at the posttranscriptional level. Several MIRNA genes in the plant kingdom are ancient, with conservation extending between angiosperms and the mosses, whereas many others are more recently evolved. Here, we use deep sequencing and computational methods to identify, profile and analyze non-conserved MIRNA genes in Arabidopsis thaliana. 48 non-conserved MIRNA families, nearly all of which were represented by single genes, were identified. Sequence similarity analyses of miRNA precursor foldback arms revealed evidence for recent evolutionary origin of 16 MIRNA loci through inverted duplication events from protein-coding gene sequences. Interestingly, these recently evolved MIRNA genes have taken distinct paths. Whereas some non-conserved miRNAs interact with and regulate target transcripts from gene families that donated parental sequences, others have drifted to the point of non-interaction with parental gene family transcripts. Some young MIRNA loci clearly originated from one gene family but form miRNAs that target transcripts in another family. We suggest that MIRNA genes are undergoing relatively frequent birth and death, with only a subset being stabilized by integration into regulatory networks.
In plants, miRNA bind to target RNAs with a high degree of complementarity. In this chapter, a simple method for computationally predicting plant miRNA targets, using a position-dependent scoring system, is described.
- microRNA-directed phasing during trans-acting siRNA biogenesis in plants.,
, Cell, 2005 Apr 22, Volume 121, Issue 2, p.207-21, (2005)
- High-throughput sequencing of Arabidopsis microRNAs: evidence for frequent birth and death of MIRNA genes.,
, PLoS One, 2007, Volume 2, Issue 2, p.e219, (2007)
- miRNA Target Prediction in Plants.,
, Methods Mol Biol, 2010, Volume 592, p.51-7, (2010)