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Physcomitrella patens DCL3 Is Required for 22–24 nt siRNA Accumulation, Suppression of Retrotransposon-Derived Transcripts, and Normal Development

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      Abstract

      Endogenous 24 nt short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), derived mostly from intergenic and repetitive genomic regions, constitute a major class of endogenous small RNAs in flowering plants. Accumulation of Arabidopsis thaliana 24 nt siRNAs requires the Dicer family member DCL3, and clear homologs of DCL3 exist in both flowering and non-flowering plants. However, the absence of a conspicuous 24 nt peak in the total RNA populations of several non-flowering plants has raised the question of whether this class of siRNAs might, in contrast to the ancient 21 nt microRNAs (miRNAs) and 21–22 nt trans-acting siRNAs (tasiRNAs), be an angiosperm-specific innovation. Analysis of non-miRNA, non-tasiRNA hotspots of small RNA production within the genome of the moss Physcomitrella patens revealed multiple loci that consistently produced a mixture of 21–24 nt siRNAs with a peak at 23 nt. These Pp23SR loci were significantly enriched in transposon content, depleted in overlap with annotated genes, and typified by dense concentrations of the 5-methyl cytosine (5 mC) DNA modification. Deep sequencing of small RNAs from two independent Ppdcl3 mutants showed that the P. patens DCL3 homolog is required for the accumulation of 22–24 nt siRNAs, but not 21 nt siRNAs, at Pp23SR loci. The 21 nt component of Pp23SR-derived siRNAs was also unaffected by a mutation in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase mutant Pprdr6. Transcriptome-wide, Ppdcl3 mutants failed to accumulate 22–24 nt small RNAs from repetitive regions while transcripts from two abundant families of long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposon-associated reverse transcriptases were up-regulated. Ppdcl3 mutants also displayed an acceleration of leafy gametophore production, suggesting that repetitive siRNAs may play a role in the development of P. patens. We conclude that intergenic/repeat-derived siRNAs are indeed a broadly conserved, distinct class of small regulatory RNAs within land plants.

      Author Summary

      Very small RNAs (between ∼21 and ∼30 single-stranded bases) are a ubiquitous component of gene regulation in nearly all eukaryotic organisms. The small RNA repertoire of angiosperms (the flowering plants) is exceptionally diverse and includes conspicuous populations of 21 nt microRNAs, as well a diverse set of 24 nt short, interfering RNAs (siRNAs). The 24 nt siRNAs have well-documented roles in enforcing the silence of parasitic regions of the genome, but are not readily apparent in the small RNA populations of several lineages of ancient, non-flowering plants. We found numerous “hotspots” of small RNA production from the genome of the moss P. patens that produced a mix of 21–24 nt siRNAs. Except for their broad mix of sizes, these hotspots were reminiscent of the 24 nt siRNA loci of angiosperms: they tended to associate with decayed transposons, to avoid annotated genes, and to be densely modified with the epigenetic mark 5-methyl cytosine. Deletion of a P. patens Dicer gene abolished production of 22–24 nt siRNAs both from these loci and transcriptome-wide, especially from repetitive regions. We conclude that both microRNAs and intergenic/repeat-associated siRNAs are ancient small RNA regulators in plants, but that the sizes of the siRNAs themselves have drifted over time.

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      EMBOSS: the European Molecular Biology Open Software Suite.

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        miRBase: tools for microRNA genomics

        miRBase is the central online repository for microRNA (miRNA) nomenclature, sequence data, annotation and target prediction. The current release (10.0) contains 5071 miRNA loci from 58 species, expressing 5922 distinct mature miRNA sequences: a growth of over 2000 sequences in the past 2 years. miRBase provides a range of data to facilitate studies of miRNA genomics: all miRNAs are mapped to their genomic coordinates. Clusters of miRNA sequences in the genome are highlighted, and can be defined and retrieved with any inter-miRNA distance. The overlap of miRNA sequences with annotated transcripts, both protein- and non-coding, are described. Finally, graphical views of the locations of a wide range of genomic features in model organisms allow for the first time the prediction of the likely boundaries of many miRNA primary transcripts. miRBase is available at http://microrna.sanger.ac.uk/.
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          Repbase Update, a database of eukaryotic repetitive elements.

          Repbase Update is a comprehensive database of repetitive elements from diverse eukaryotic organisms. Currently, it contains over 3600 annotated sequences representing different families and subfamilies of repeats, many of which are unreported anywhere else. Each sequence is accompanied by a short description and references to the original contributors. Repbase Update includes Repbase Reports, an electronic journal publishing newly discovered transposable elements, and the Transposon Pub, a web-based browser of selected chromosomal maps of transposable elements. Sequences from Repbase Update are used to screen and annotate repetitive elements using programs such as Censor and RepeatMasker. Repbase Update is available on the worldwide web at http://www.girinst.org/Repbase_Update.html.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America
            [2 ]Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America
            [3 ]Plant Biology Graduate Program, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America
            [4 ]Plant Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
            [5 ]Integrative Biosciences Graduate Program in Bioinformatics and Genomics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America
            Washington University School of Medicine, United States of America
            Author notes

            Conceived and designed the experiments: SHC CAQ WF MJA. Performed the experiments: SHC CAQ CC MAA. Analyzed the data: SHC CAQ WF MJA. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: ZM. Wrote the paper: SHC MJA.

            Contributors
            Role: Editor
            Journal
            PLoS Genet
            plos
            plosgen
            PLoS Genetics
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            1553-7390
            1553-7404
            December 2008
            December 2008
            19 December 2008
            : 4
            : 12
            2600652
            19096705
            08-PLGE-RA-0910R3
            10.1371/journal.pgen.1000314
            (Editor)
            Cho et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Counts
            Pages: 13
            Categories
            Research Article
            Genetics and Genomics/Epigenetics
            Genetics and Genomics/Plant Genetics and Gene Expression
            Genetics and Genomics/Plant Genomes and Evolution
            Plant Biology
            Plant Biology/Plant Genetics and Gene Expression
            Plant Biology/Plant Genomes and Evolution

            Genetics

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