Small RNAs play important roles during plant development by regulating transcript levels of target mRNAs, maintaining genome integrity, and reinforcing DNA methylation.
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Abstract The spatiotemporal development of somatic tissues of the anther lobe is necessary for successful fertile pollen production. This process is mediated by many transcription factors acting through complex, multi-layered networks. Here, our analysis of functional knockout mutants of interacting basic helix–loop–helix genes Ms23, Ms32, basic helix–loop–helix 122 (bHLH122), and bHLH51 in maize (Zea mays) established that male fertility requires all four genes, expressed sequentially in the tapetum (TP). Not only do they regulate each other, but also they encode proteins that form heterodimers that act collaboratively to guide many cellular processes at specific developmental stages. MS23 is confirmed to be the master factor, as the ms23 mutant showed the earliest developmental defect, cytologically visible in the TP, with the most drastic alterations in premeiotic gene expression observed in ms23 anthers. Notably, the male-sterile ms23, ms32, and bhlh122-1 mutants lack 24-nt phased secondary small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs) and the precursor transcripts from the corresponding 24-PHAS loci, while the bhlh51-1 mutant has wild-type levels of both precursors and small RNA products. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that 24-nt phasiRNA biogenesis primarily occurs downstream of MS23 and MS32, both of which directly activate Dcl5 and are required for most 24-PHAS transcription, withmore »
Pre-meiotic 21-nucleotide reproductive phasiRNAs emerged in seed plants and diversified in flowering plants
Plant small RNAs are important regulatory elements that fine-tune gene expression and maintain genome integrity by silencing transposons. Reproductive organs of monocots produce abundant phased, small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs). The 21-nt reproductive phasiRNAs triggered by miR2118 are highly enriched in pre-meiotic anthers, and have been found in multiple eudicot species, in contrast with prior reports of monocot specificity. The 24-nt reproductive phasiRNAs are triggered by miR2275, and are highly enriched during meiosis in many angiosperms. Here, we report the widespread presence of the 21-nt reproductive phasiRNA pathway in eudicots including canonical and non-canonical microRNA (miRNA) triggers of this pathway. In eudicots, these 21-nt phasiRNAs are enriched in pre-meiotic stages, a spatiotemporal distribution consistent with that of monocots and suggesting a role in anther development. Although this pathway is apparently absent in well-studied eudicot families including the Brassicaceae, Solanaceae and Fabaceae, our work in eudicots supports an earlier singular finding in spruce, a gymnosperm, indicating that the pathway of 21-nt reproductive phasiRNAs emerged in seed plants and was lost in some lineages.
Reproductive phasiRNA loci and DICER-LIKE5, but not microRNA loci, diversified in monocotyledonous plantsAbstract In monocots other than maize (Zea mays) and rice (Oryza sativa), the repertoire and diversity of microRNAs (miRNAs) and the populations of phased, secondary, small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs) are poorly characterized. To remedy this, we sequenced small RNAs (sRNA) from vegetative and dissected inflorescence tissue in 28 phylogenetically diverse monocots and from several early-diverging angiosperm lineages, as well as publicly available data from 10 additional monocot species. We annotated miRNAs, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and phasiRNAs across the monocot phylogeny, identifying miRNAs apparently lost or gained in the grasses relative to other monocot families, as well as a number of transfer RNA fragments misannotated as miRNAs. Using our miRNA database cleaned of these misannotations, we identified conservation at the 8th, 9th, 19th, and 3′-end positions that we hypothesize are signatures of selection for processing, targeting, or Argonaute sorting. We show that 21-nucleotide (nt) reproductive phasiRNAs are far more numerous in grass genomes than other monocots. Based on sequenced monocot genomes and transcriptomes, DICER-LIKE5, important to 24-nt phasiRNA biogenesis, likely originated via gene duplication before the diversification of the grasses. This curated database of phylogenetically diverse monocot miRNAs, siRNAs, and phasiRNAs represents a large collection of data that should facilitatemore »
Small RNAs are abundant in plant reproductive tissues, especially 24-nucleotide (nt) small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Most 24-nt siRNAs are dependent on RNA Pol IV and RNA-DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE 2 (RDR2) and establish DNA methylation at thousands of genomic loci in a process called RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM). In
Brassica rapa, RdDM is required in the maternal sporophyte for successful seed development. Here, we demonstrate that a small number of siRNA loci account for over 90% of siRNA expression during B. rapaseed development. These loci exhibit unique characteristics with regard to their copy number and association with genomic features, but they resemble canonical 24-nt siRNA loci in their dependence on RNA Pol IV/RDR2 and role in RdDM. These loci are expressed in ovules before fertilization and in the seed coat, embryo, and endosperm following fertilization. We observed a similar pattern of 24-nt siRNA expression in diverse angiosperms despite rapid sequence evolution at siren loci. In the endosperm, siren siRNAs show a marked maternal bias, and siren expression in maternal sporophytic tissues is required for siren siRNA accumulation. Together, these results demonstrate that seed development occurs under the influence of abundant maternal siRNAs that might be transported to, and function in, filial tissues.
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