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Plant Physiol. 2005 Aug;138(4):2145-54. Epub 2005 Jul 22.

Expression of Arabidopsis MIRNA genes.

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  • 1Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology, and Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are approximately 21-nucleotide noncoding RNAs that regulate target transcripts in plants and animals. In addition to miRNAs, plants contain several classes of endogenous small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) involved in target gene regulation and epigenetic silencing. Small RNA libraries were constructed from wild-type Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and mutant plants (rdr2 and dcl3) that were genetically enriched for miRNAs, and a computational procedure was developed to identify candidate miRNAs. Thirty-eight distinct miRNAs corresponding to 22 families were represented in the libraries. Using a 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends procedure, the transcription start sites for 63 miRNA primary transcripts from 52 MIRNA loci (99 loci tested) were mapped, revealing features consistent with an RNA polymerase II mechanism of transcription. Ten loci (19%) yielded transcripts from multiple start sites. A canonical TATA box motif was identified upstream of the major start site at 45 (86%) of the mapped MIRNA loci. The 5'-mapping data were combined with miRNA cloning and 3'-PCR data to definitively validate expression of at least 73 MIRNA genes. These data provide a molecular basis to explore regulatory mechanisms of miRNA expression in plants.

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