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Curr Biol. 2003 May 13;13(10):843-8.

Arabidopsis HEN1: a genetic link between endogenous miRNA controlling development and siRNA controlling transgene silencing and virus resistance.

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Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire, INRA, 78026 Versailles Cedex, France.


In animals, double-stranded short interfering RNA (siRNA) and single-stranded microRNA (miRNA) regulate gene expression by targeting homologous mRNA for cleavage or by interfering with their translation, respectively. siRNAs are processed from injected or transgene-derived, long, perfect double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), while miRNAs are processed from short, imperfect dsRNA precursors transcribed from endogenous intergenic regions. In plants, both siRNAs and miRNAs activate cleavage of homologous RNA targets, but little is known about the genes controlling their production or action. The SGS2/SDE1 protein contributes to produce transgene siRNA, while DCL1 and HEN1 contribute to endogenous miRNA accumulation. Here, we show that: i) SGS2, SGS3, AGO1, and HEN1 contribute to produce transgene siRNA involved in sense posttranscriptional gene silencing (S-PTGS); ii) HEN1, but not SGS2, SGS3, or AGO1, contributes to the accumulation of the endogenous miR171 miRNA and to the cleavage of Scarecrow target mRNA by miR171; iii) SGS2, SGS3, AGO1, and HEN1 contribute to resistance against cucumber mosaic virus, but not to siRNA and IR-PTGS triggered by hairpin transgenes directly producing perfect dsRNA; and iv) the actions of HEN1 in miRNA/development and siRNA/S-PTGS can be uncoupled by single-point mutations at different positions in the protein.

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