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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Twenty-four-nucleotide (nt) small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) maintain asymmetric DNA methylation at thousands of euchromatic transposable elements in plant genomes in a process called RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM). RdDM is dispensable for growth and development in Arabidopsis thaliana, but is required for reproduction in other plants, such as Brassica rapa. The 24-nt siRNAs are abundant in maternal reproductive tissue, due largely to overwhelming expression from a few loci in the ovule and developing seed coat, termed siren loci. A recent study showed that 24-nt siRNAs produced in the anther tapetal tissue can methylate male meiocyte genes in trans. Here we show that in B. rapa, a similar process takes place in female tissue. siRNAs are produced from gene fragments embedded in some siren loci, and these siRNAs can trigger methylation in trans at related protein-coding genes. This trans-methylation is associated with silencing of some target genes and may be responsible for seed abortion in RdDM mutants. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a consensus sequence in at least two families of DNA transposons is associated with abundant siren expression, most likely through recruitment of CLASSY3, a putative chromatin remodeler. This research describes a mechanism whereby RdDM influences gene expression and sheds lightmore »on the role of RdDM during plant reproduction.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 30, 2023
  4. Abstract Epigenomics is the study of molecular signatures associated with discrete regions within genomes, many of which are important for a wide range of nuclear processes. The ability to profile the epigenomic landscape associated with genes, repetitive regions, transposons, transcription, differential expression, cis-regulatory elements, and 3D chromatin interactions has vastly improved our understanding of plant genomes. However, many epigenomic and single-cell genomic assays are challenging to perform in plants, leading to a wide range of data quality issues; thus, the data require rigorous evaluation prior to downstream analyses and interpretation. In this commentary, we provide considerations for the evaluation of plant epigenomics and single-cell genomics data quality with the aim of improving the quality and utility of studies using those data across diverse plant species.
  5. 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). InBrassica 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 duringB. 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.

  6. Arabidopsisseed development involves maternal small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that induce RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) through theNRPD1-mediated pathway. To investigate their biological functions, we characterized siRNAs in the endosperm and seed coat that were separated by laser-capture microdissection (LCM) in reciprocal genetic crosses with annrpd1mutant. We also monitored the spatial-temporal activity of theNRPD1-mediated pathway on seed development using the AGO4:GFP::AGO4 (promoter:GFP::protein) reporter and promoter:GUS sensors of siRNA-mediated silencing. From these approaches, we identified four distinct groups of siRNA loci dependent on or independent of the maternalNRPD1allele in the endosperm or seed coat. A group of maternally expressedNRPD1-siRNA loci targets endosperm-preferred genes, including those encoding AGAMOUS-LIKE (AGL) transcription factors. Using translational promoter:AGL::GUS constructs as sensors, we demonstrate that spatial and temporal expression patterns of these genes in the endosperm are regulated by theNRPD1-mediated pathway irrespective of complete silencing (AGL91) or incomplete silencing (AGL40) of these target genes. Moreover, altered expression of these siRNA-targeted genes affects seed size. We propose that the corresponding maternal siRNAs could account for parent-of-origin effects on the endosperm in interploidy and hybrid crosses. These analyses reconcile previous studies on siRNAs and imprinted gene expression during seed development.