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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Aug 24;101(34):12753-8. Epub 2004 Aug 16.

Arabidopsis micro-RNA biogenesis through Dicer-like 1 protein functions.

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Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Komaba 3-8-1, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan.


Micro-RNAs (miRNAs) are small, noncoding RNAs of 18-25 nt in length that negatively regulate their complementary mRNAs at the posttranscriptional level. Previous work has shown that some RNase III-like enzymes such as Drosha and Dicer are known to be involved in miRNA biogenesis in animals. However, the mechanism of plant miRNA biogenesis still remains poorly understood. In this article, the process of Arabidopsis miR163 biogenesis was examined. The results revealed that two types of miR163 primary transcripts (pri-miR163s) are transcribed from a single gene by RNA polymerase II and that miR163 biogenesis requires at least three cleavage steps by RNase III-like enzymes at 21-nt-long intervals. The first step is from pri-miR163 to long miR163 precursor (premiR163), the second step is from long pre-miR163 to short premiR163, and the last step is from short pre-miR163 to mature miR163 and the remnant. It is interesting that, during the process, four small RNAs including miR163 are released. By using dcl1 mutants, it was demonstrated that Arabidopsis Dicer homologue Dicer-like 1 (DCL1) catalyzes at least the first and second cleavage steps and that double-stranded RNA-binding domains of DCL1 are involved in positioning of the cleavage sites. Our result is direct evidence that DCL1 is involved in processing of pri- and pre-miRNA.

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