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Curr Biol. 2007 May 1;17(9):818-23. Epub 2007 Apr 19.

Identification of nuclear dicing bodies containing proteins for microRNA biogenesis in living Arabidopsis plants.

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


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important for regulating gene expression in muticellular organisms. MiRNA processing is a two-step process. In animal cells, the first step is nuclear and the second step cytoplasmic, whereas in plant cells, both steps occur in the nucleus via the enzyme Dicer-like1 (DCL1) and other proteins including the zinc-finger-domain protein Serrate (SE) and a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) binding-domain protein, Hyponastic Leaves1 (HYL1). Furthermore, plant miRNAs are methylated by Hua Enhancer (HEN1) at their 3' ends and loaded onto Argonaute1 (AGO1). However, little is known about the cellular basis of miRNA biogenesis. Using live-cell imaging, we show here that DCL1 and HYL1 colocalize in discrete nuclear bodies in addition to being present in a low-level diffuse nucleoplasmic distribution. These bodies, which we refer to as nuclear dicing bodies (D-bodies), differ from Cajal bodies. A mutated DCL1 with impaired function in miRNA processing fails to target to D-bodies, and an introduced primary (pri)-miRNA transcript is recruited to D-bodies. Furthermore, bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) shows that DCL1, HYL1, and SE interact in D-bodies. On the basis of these data, we propose that D-bodies are crucial for orchestrating pri-miRNA processing and/or storage/assembly of miRNA-processing complexes in the nuclei of plant cells.

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