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Front Plant Sci. 2013 Jun 20;4:197. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00197. eCollection 2013.

miRNAs mediate SnRK1-dependent energy signaling in Arabidopsis.

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Plant Stress Signaling, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência Oeiras, Portugal.


The SnRK1 protein kinase, the plant ortholog of mammalian AMPK and yeast Snf1, is activated by the energy depletion caused by adverse environmental conditions. Upon activation, SnRK1 triggers extensive transcriptional changes to restore homeostasis and promote stress tolerance and survival partly through the inhibition of anabolism and the activation of catabolism. Despite the identification of a few bZIP transcription factors as downstream effectors, the mechanisms underlying gene regulation, and in particular gene repression by SnRK1, remain mostly unknown. microRNAs (miRNAs) are 20-24 nt RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally by driving the cleavage and/or translation attenuation of complementary mRNA targets. In addition to their role in plant development, mounting evidence implicates miRNAs in the response to environmental stress. Given the involvement of miRNAs in stress responses and the fact that some of the SnRK1-regulated genes are miRNA targets, we postulated that miRNAs drive part of the transcriptional reprogramming triggered by SnRK1. By comparing the transcriptional response to energy deprivation between WT and dcl1-9, a mutant deficient in miRNA biogenesis, we identified 831 starvation genes misregulated in the dcl1-9 mutant, out of which 155 are validated or predicted miRNA targets. Functional clustering analysis revealed that the main cellular processes potentially co-regulated by SnRK1 and miRNAs are translation and organelle function and uncover TCP transcription factors as one of the most highly enriched functional clusters. TCP repression during energy deprivation was impaired in miR319 knockdown (MIM319) plants, demonstrating the involvement of miR319 in the stress-dependent regulation of TCPs. Altogether, our data indicates that miRNAs are components of the SnRK1 signaling cascade contributing to the regulation of specific mRNA targets and possibly tuning down particular cellular processes during the stress response.


Arabidopsis; DCL1; SnRK1; energy signaling; miRNA; stress

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