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Development. 2006 Sep;133(18):3539-47. Epub 2006 Aug 16.

Temporal regulation of shoot development in Arabidopsis thaliana by miR156 and its target SPL3.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6018, USA.


SPL3, SPL4 and SPL5 (SPL3/4/5) are closely related members of the SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE family of transcription factors in Arabidopsis, and have a target site for the microRNA miR156 in their 3' UTR. The phenotype of Arabidopsis plants constitutively expressing miR156-sensitive and miR156-insensitive forms of SPL3/4/5 revealed that all three genes promote vegetative phase change and flowering, and are strongly repressed by miR156. Constitutive expression of miR156a prolonged the expression of juvenile vegetative traits and delayed flowering. This phenotype was largely corrected by constitutive expression of a miR156-insensitive form of SPL3. The juvenile-to-adult transition is accompanied by a decrease in the level of miR156 and an increase in the abundance of SPL3 mRNA. The complementary effect of hasty on the miR156 and SPL3 transcripts, as well as the miR156-dependent temporal expression pattern of a 35S::GUS-SPL3 transgene, suggest that the decrease in miR156 is responsible for the increase in SPL3 expression during this transition. SPL3 mRNA is elevated by mutations in ZIPPY/AGO7, RNA DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE 6 (RDR6) and SUPPRESSOR OF GENE SILENCING 3 (SGS3), indicating that it is directly or indirectly regulated by RNAi. However, our results indicate that RNAi does not contribute to the temporal expression pattern of this gene. We conclude that vegetative phase change in Arabidopsis is regulated by an increase in the expression of SPL3 and probably also SPL4 and SPL5, and that this increase is a consequence of a decrease in the level of miR156.

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