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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Aug 20;99(17):11513-8. Epub 2002 Aug 7.

Identification of unstable transcripts in Arabidopsis by cDNA microarray analysis: rapid decay is associated with a group of touch- and specific clock-controlled genes.

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  • 1Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1312, USA.


mRNA degradation provides a powerful means for controlling gene expression during growth, development, and many physiological transitions in plants and other systems. Rates of decay help define the steady state levels to which transcripts accumulate in the cytoplasm and determine the speed with which these levels change in response to the appropriate signals. When fast responses are to be achieved, rapid decay of mRNAs is necessary. Accordingly, genes with unstable transcripts often encode proteins that play important regulatory roles. Although detailed studies have been carried out on individual genes with unstable transcripts, there is limited knowledge regarding their nature and associations from a genomic perspective, or the physiological significance of rapid mRNA turnover in intact organisms. To address these problems, we have applied cDNA microarray analysis to identify and characterize genes with unstable transcripts in Arabidopsis thaliana (AtGUTs). Our studies showed that at least 1% of the 11,521 clones represented on Arabidopsis Functional Genomics Consortium microarrays correspond to transcripts that are rapidly degraded, with estimated half-lives of less than 60 min. AtGUTs encode proteins that are predicted to participate in a broad range of cellular processes, with transcriptional functions being over-represented relative to the whole Arabidopsis genome annotation. Analysis of public microarray expression data for these genes argues that mRNA instability is of high significance during plant responses to mechanical stimulation and is associated with specific genes controlled by the circadian clock.

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