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Genomics Proteomics Bioinformatics. 2013 Jun;11(3):172-81. doi: 10.1016/j.gpb.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 May 7.

Identification of ta-siRNAs and cis-nat-siRNAs in cassava and their roles in response to cassava bacterial blight.

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Departamento de Biología, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá DC 111321, Colombia.


Trans-acting small interfering RNAs (ta-siRNAs) and natural cis-antisense siRNAs (cis-nat-siRNAs) are recently discovered small RNAs (sRNAs) involved in post-transcriptional gene silencing. ta-siRNAs are transcribed from genomic loci and require processing by microRNAs (miRNAs). cis-nat-siRNAs are derived from antisense RNAs produced by the simultaneous transcription of overlapping antisense genes. Their roles in many plant processes, including pathogen response, are mostly unknown. In this work, we employed a bioinformatic approach to identify ta-siRNAs and cis-nat-siRNAs in cassava from two sRNA libraries, one constructed from healthy cassava plants and one from plants inoculated with the bacterium Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis (Xam). A total of 54 possible ta-siRNA loci were identified in cassava, including a homolog of TAS3, the best studied plant ta-siRNA. Fifteen of these loci were induced, while 39 were repressed in response to Xam infection. In addition, 15 possible cis-natural antisense transcript (cis-NAT) loci producing siRNAs were identified from overlapping antisense regions in the genome, and were found to be differentially expressed upon Xam infection. Roles of sRNAs were predicted by sequence complementarity and our results showed that many sRNAs identified in this work might be directed against various transcription factors. This work represents a significant step toward understanding the roles of sRNAs in the immune response of cassava.

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