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Front Plant Sci. 2019 Apr 16;10:475. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00475. eCollection 2019.

Characterization of the Spatial and Temporal Expression of Two Soybean miRNAs Identifies SCL6 as a Novel Regulator of Soybean Nodulation.

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C.S. Bond Life Science Center, Divisions of Plant Sciences and Biochemistry, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States.
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, MO, United States.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) control expression of endogenous target genes through transcript cleavage or translational inhibition. Legume plants can form a specialized organ, the nodule, through interaction with nitrogen fixing soil bacteria. To understand the regulatory roles of miRNAs in the nodulation process, we functionally validated gma-miR171o and gma-miR171q and their target genes in soybean. These two miRNA sequences are identical in sequence but their miRNA genes are divergent and show unique, tissue-specific expression patterns. The expression levels of the two miRNAs are negatively correlated with that of their target genes. Ectopic expression of these miRNAs in transgenic hairy roots resulted in a significant reduction in nodule formation. Both gma-miR171o and gma-miR171q target members of the GRAS transcription factor superfamily, namely GmSCL-6 and GmNSP2. Transient interaction of miRNAs and their target genes in tobacco cells further confirmed their cleavage activity. The results suggest that gma-miR171o and gma-miR171q regulate GmSCL-6 and GmNSP2, which in turn, influence expression of the Nodule inception (NIN), Early Nodulin 40 (ENOD40), and Ethylene Response Factor Required for Nodulation (ERN) genes during the Bradyrhizobium japonicum-soybean nodulation process. Collectively, our data suggest a role for two miRNAs, gma-miR171o and gma-miR171q, in regulating the spatial and temporal aspects of soybean nodulation.


GRAS TF; NSP2; Scarecrow like-6; miR171; miRNA; nodulation; soybean; symbiosis

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