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EMBO J. 2004 Aug 18;23(16):3356-64. Epub 2004 Jul 29.

MicroRNA control of PHABULOSA in leaf development: importance of pairing to the microRNA 5' region.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA 02142-1479, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are approximately 22-nucleotide noncoding RNAs that can regulate gene expression by directing mRNA degradation or inhibiting productive translation. Dominant mutations in PHABULOSA (PHB) and PHAVOLUTA (PHV) map to a miR165/166 complementary site and impair miRNA-guided cleavage of these mRNAs in vitro. Here, we confirm that disrupted miRNA pairing, not changes in PHB protein sequence, causes the developmental defects in phb-d mutants. In planta, disrupting miRNA pairing near the center of the miRNA complementary site had far milder developmental consequences than more distal mismatches. These differences correlated with differences in miRNA-directed cleavage efficiency in vitro, where mismatch scanning revealed more tolerance for mismatches at the center and 3' end of the miRNA compared to mismatches to the miRNA 5' region. In this respect, miR165/166 resembles animal miRNAs in its pairing requirements. Pairing to the 5' portion of the small silencing RNA appears crucial regardless of the mode of post-transcriptional repression or whether it occurs in plants or animals, supporting a model in which this region of the silencing RNA nucleates pairing to its target.

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