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Biochimie. 2011 Nov;93(11):1950-4. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2011.07.028. Epub 2011 Jul 31.

Dual RNAs in plants.

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  • 1Institut des Sciences du Végétal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 91198 Gif sur Yvette, France.


Plants have remarkable developmental plasticity, and the same genotype can result in different phenotypes depending on environmental variation. Indeed, abiotic stresses or biotic interactions affect organogenesis and post-embryonic growth and significantly affect gene regulation. The large diversity of non-protein-coding RNAs (npcRNAs) and genes containing only short open reading frames that are expressed during plant growth and development, contribute to the regulation of gene expression. Certain npcRNAs code for oligopeptides and may possess additional biological activity linked to the RNA moiety. The ENOD40 gene is a dual RNA that is activated during a symbiotic interaction leading to root nodule organogenesis. Both the oligopeptides encoded by ENOD40 and the structured regions of the ENOD40 RNA have been shown to interact with different proteins in the cell to control enzymatic activities or induce the relocalisation of ribonucleoproteins, respectively. Other npcRNAs encode for small signalling peptides or are the precursors of small RNAs involved in post-transcriptional or transcriptional gene silencing. They may have RNA-related activities or encode peptides (or even larger proteins), and therefore act as dual RNAs. In addition, long natural antisense RNAs with a coding function and a regulatory RNA-mediated action that are expressed in response to abiotic stress in plants have been identified. In certain cases, these RNAs lead to the synthesis of nat-siRNAs, that are small RNAs derived from the overlapping double-stranded RNA region of natural antisense RNAs, which facilitates the silencing of complementary mRNAs. Finally, the advent of deep sequencing technologies has identified a large number of non-protein-coding RNAs in plants, which could be a large reservoir for dual RNAs.

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