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J Inorg Biochem. 2009 Feb;103(2):282-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2008.10.019. Epub 2008 Nov 7.

Heavy metal-regulated new microRNAs from rice.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Life Science, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a novel class of short, endogenous non-coding small RNAs that have the ability to base pair with their target mRNAs to repress their translation or induce their degradation in both plants and animals. To identify heavy metal stress-regulated novel miRNAs, we constructed a library of small RNAs from rice seedlings that were exposed to toxic levels of cadmium (Cd(2+)). Sequencing of the library and subsequent analysis revealed 19 new miRNAs representing six families. These cloned new rice miRNAs have sequence conservation neither in Arabidopsis nor in any other species. Most of the new rice miRNAs were up- or down-regulated in response to the metal exposure. On the base of sequence complementarity, a total of 34 miRNA targets were predicted, of which 23 targets are functionally annotated and the other 11 records belong to unknown proteins. Some predicted targets of miRNAs are associated with the regulation of the response to heavy metal-induced stresses. In addition to the new miRNAs, we detected nine previously reported miRNAs and 56 other novel endogenous small RNAs in rice. These findings suggest that the number of new miRNAs in rice is unsaturated and some of them may play critical roles in plant responses to environmental stresses.

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