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Plant Physiol. 2009 Dec;151(4):1831-43. doi: 10.1104/pp.109.144428. Epub 2009 Sep 25.

Untranslated regions of a mobile transcript mediate RNA metabolism.

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Plant Biology Major, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011-1100, USA.


BEL1-like transcription factors are ubiquitous in plants and interact with KNOTTED1 types to regulate numerous developmental processes. In potato (Solanum tuberosum subsp. andigena), the BEL1-like transcription factor StBEL5 and its Knox protein partner regulate tuber formation by targeting genes that control growth. RNA detection methods and heterografting experiments demonstrated that StBEL5 transcripts are present in phloem cells and move across a graft union to localize in stolon tips, the site of tuber induction. This movement of RNA originates in leaf veins and petioles and is induced by a short-day photoperiod, regulated by the untranslated regions, and correlated with enhanced tuber production. Assays for RNA mobility suggest that both 5' and 3' untranslated regions contribute to the preferential accumulation of the StBEL5 RNA but that the 3' untranslated region may contribute more to transport from the leaf to the stem and into the stolons. Addition of the StBEL5 untranslated regions to another BEL1-like mRNA resulted in its preferential transport to stolon tips and enhanced tuber production. Transcript stability assays showed that the untranslated regions and a long-day photoperiod enhanced StBEL5 RNA stability in shoot tips. Upon fusion of the untranslated regions of StBEL5 to a beta-glucuronidase marker, translation in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) protoplasts was repressed by those constructs containing the 3' untranslated sequence. These results demonstrate that the untranslated regions of the mRNA of StBEL5 are involved in mediating its long-distance transport, in maintaining transcript stability, and in controlling translation.

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