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Trends Plant Sci. 2008 Jul;13(7):383-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2008.05.001. Epub 2008 Jun 10.

Inputs and outputs for chromatin-targeted RNAi.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Plant gene silencing is targeted to transposons and repeated sequences by small RNAs from the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway. Like classical RNAi, RNA-directed chromatin silencing involves the cleavage of double-stranded RNA by Dicer endonucleases to create small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which bind to the Argonaute protein. The production of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) must be carefully controlled to prevent inappropriate silencing. A plant-specific RNA polymerase IV (Pol IV) initiates siRNA production at silent heterochromatin, but Pol IV-independent mechanisms for making dsRNA also exist. Downstream of siRNA biogenesis, multiple chromatin marks might be targeted by Argonaute-siRNA complexes, yet mechanisms of chromatin modification remain poorly understood. Genomic studies of siRNA target loci promise to reveal novel biological functions for chromatin-targeted RNAi.

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