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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  2. Abstract The Solanaceae or “nightshade” family is an economically important group with remarkable diversity. To gain a better understanding of how the unique biology of the Solanaceae relates to the family’s small RNA (sRNA) genomic landscape, we downloaded over 255 publicly available sRNA data sets that comprise over 2.6 billion reads of sequence data. We applied a suite of computational tools to predict and annotate two major sRNA classes: (1) microRNAs (miRNAs), typically 20- to 22-nucleotide (nt) RNAs generated from a hairpin precursor and functioning in gene silencing and (2) short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), including 24-nt heterochromatic siRNAs typically functioning to repress repetitive regions of the genome via RNA-directed DNA methylation, as well as secondary phased siRNAs and trans-acting siRNAs generated via miRNA-directed cleavage of a polymerase II-derived RNA precursor. Our analyses described thousands of sRNA loci, including poorly understood clusters of 22-nt siRNAs that accumulate during viral infection. The birth, death, expansion, and contraction of these sRNA loci are dynamic evolutionary processes that characterize the Solanaceae family. These analyses indicate that individuals within the same genus share similar sRNA landscapes, whereas comparisons between distinct genera within the Solanaceae reveal relatively few commonalities.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 28, 2023
  3. Abstract Previously, we have shown that apoplastic wash fluid (AWF) purified from Arabidopsis leaves contains small RNAs (sRNAs). To investigate whether these sRNAs are encapsulated inside extracellular vesicles (EVs), we treated EVs isolated from Arabidopsis leaves with the protease trypsin and RNase A, which should degrade RNAs located outside EVs but not those located inside. These analyses revealed that apoplastic RNAs are mostly located outside and are associated with proteins. Further analyses of these extracellular RNAs (exRNAs) revealed that they include both sRNAs and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), including circular RNAs (circRNAs). We also found that exRNAs are highly enriched in the posttranscriptional modification N6-methyladenine (m6A). Consistent with this, we identified a putative m6A-binding protein in AWF, GLYCINE-RICH RNA-BINDING PROTEIN 7 (GRP7), as well as the sRNA-binding protein ARGONAUTE2 (AGO2). These two proteins coimmunoprecipitated with lncRNAs, including circRNAs. Mutation of GRP7 or AGO2 caused changes in both the sRNA and lncRNA content of AWF, suggesting that these proteins contribute to the secretion and/or stabilization of exRNAs. We propose that exRNAs located outside of EVs mediate host-induced gene silencing, rather than RNA located inside EVs.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 16, 2023