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Organ polarity in plants is specified through the opposing activity of two distinct small regulatory RNAs.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


Small RNAs and their targets form complex regulatory networks that control cellular and developmental processes in multicellular organisms. In plants, dorsoventral (adaxial/abaxial) patterning provides a unique example of a developmental process in which early patterning decisions are determined by small RNAs. A gradient of microRNA166 on the abaxial/ventral side of the incipient leaf restricts the expression of adaxial/dorsal determinants. Another class of small RNAs, the TAS3-derivated trans-acting short-interfering RNAs (ta-siRNAs), are expressed adaxially and repress the activity of abaxial factors. Loss of maize leafbladeless1 (lbl1) function, a key component of the ta-siRNA biogenesis pathway, leads to misexpression of miR166 throughout the initiating leaf, implicating ta-siRNAs in the spatiotemporal regulation of miR166. The spatial restriction of tasiRNA biogenesis components suggests that this pathway may act non-cell-autonomously in the meristem and possibly contributes to the classic meristem-borne adaxializing Sussex signal. Here, we discuss the key participants in adaxial/abaxial patterning and point out the intriguing possibility that organ polarity in plants is established by the opposing action of specific ta-siRNAs and miRNAs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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