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Plant Cell Physiol. 2010 Dec;51(12):2119-31. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcq170. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Complex regulation of two target genes encoding SPX-MFS proteins by rice miR827 in response to phosphate starvation.

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Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei 115, Taiwan.


Here we report on the characterization of rice osa-miR827 and its two target genes, OsSPX-MFS1 and OsSPX-MFS2, which encode SPX-MFS proteins predicted to be implicated in phosphate (Pi) sensing or transport. We first show by Northern blot analysis that osa-miR827 is strongly induced by Pi starvation in both shoots and roots. Hybridization of osa-miR827 in situ confirms its strong induction by Pi starvation, with signals concentrated in mesophyll, epidermis and ground tissues of roots. In parallel, we analyzed the responses of the two OsSPX-MFS1 and OsSPX-MFS2 gene targets to Pi starvation. OsSPX-MFS1 mRNA is mainly expressed in shoots under sufficient Pi supply while its expression is reduced on Pi starvation, revealing a direct relationship between induction of osa-miR827 and down-regulation of OsSPX-MFS1. In contrast, OsSPX-MFS2 responds in a diametrically opposed manner to Pi starvation. The accumulation of OsSPX-MFS2 mRNA is dramatically enhanced under Pi starvation, suggesting the involvement of complex regulation of osa-miR827 and its two target genes. We further produced transgenic rice lines overexpressing osa-miR827 and T-DNA knockout mutant lines in which the expression of osa-miR827 is abolished. Compared with wild-type controls, both target mRNAs exhibit similar changes, their expression being reduced and increased in overexpressing and knockout lines, respectively. This suggests that OsSPX-MFS1 and OsSPX-MFS2 are both negatively regulated by osa-miR827 abundance although they respond differently to external Pi conditions. We propose that this is a complex mechanism comprising fine tuning of spatial or temporal regulation of both targets by osa-miR827.

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