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Gene. 2013 Jun 10;522(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2013.03.101. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

Widespread, abundant, and diverse TE-associated siRNAs in developing wheat grain.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory for Agrobiotechnology and Key Laboratory of Crop Heterosis and Utilization (MOE) and Key Laboratory of Crop Genomics and Genetic Improvement (MOA), Beijing Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, P. R. China.


Small RNAs related to RNA interference are key molecules in many developmental processes, in which they can both regulate developmental gene expression and maintain the integrity of the genome and epigenome. In plants, short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) of 24 nt in length are an abundant type of small RNA associated with transposable elements (TEs), other repetitive sequences, and viral defense. One means by which TE-associated siRNAs affect genome integrity is by altering chromatin structure through a process called RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM). In this paper, we describe a comparative survey of siRNAs from wheat seedling leaves, seedling roots, young spikelets, and grains at 8 and 15 days after pollination (DAP). We find that the general patterns of siRNA distributions are similar across different TEs and within TEs of the same family regardless of tissue, but the relative abundance of 24-nt siRNAs is highest in developing grains. We also find that TEs that are transcriptionally active in endosperm are associated with the highest siRNA abundance not only in grains, but also in other tissues as well. These results suggest that RdDM is an important feature of developing wheat grain and are consistent with the hypothesis that TE expression in endosperm results in increased TE siRNAs, and that RdDM is a conserved feature of plant seed development.

Crown Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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