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      Apple miRNAs and tasiRNAs with novel regulatory networks

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          MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and their regulatory functions have been extensively characterized in model species but whether apple has evolved similar or unique regulatory features remains unknown.


          We performed deep small RNA-seq and identified 23 conserved, 10 less-conserved and 42 apple-specific miRNAs or families with distinct expression patterns. The identified miRNAs target 118 genes representing a wide range of enzymatic and regulatory activities. Apple also conserves two TAS gene families with similar but unique trans-acting small interfering RNA (tasiRNA) biogenesis profiles and target specificities. Importantly, we found that miR159, miR828 and miR858 can collectively target up to 81 MYB genes potentially involved in diverse aspects of plant growth and development. These miRNA target sites are differentially conserved among MYBs, which is largely influenced by the location and conservation of the encoded amino acid residues in MYB factors. Finally, we found that 10 of the 19 miR828-targeted MYBs undergo small interfering RNA (siRNA) biogenesis at the 3' cleaved, highly divergent transcript regions, generating over 100 sequence-distinct siRNAs that potentially target over 70 diverse genes as confirmed by degradome analysis.


          Our work identified and characterized apple miRNAs, their expression patterns, targets and regulatory functions. We also discovered that three miRNAs and the ensuing siRNAs exploit both conserved and divergent sequence features of MYB genes to initiate distinct regulatory networks targeting a multitude of genes inside and outside the MYB family.

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          Most cited references 57

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          Vienna RNA secondary structure server.

           I. Hofacker (2003)
          The Vienna RNA secondary structure server provides a web interface to the most frequently used functions of the Vienna RNA software package for the analysis of RNA secondary structures. It currently offers prediction of secondary structure from a single sequence, prediction of the consensus secondary structure for a set of aligned sequences and the design of sequences that will fold into a predefined structure. All three services can be accessed via the Vienna RNA web server at
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            Origin, biogenesis, and activity of plant microRNAs.

            MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are key posttranscriptional regulators of eukaryotic gene expression. Plants use highly conserved as well as more recently evolved, species-specific miRNAs to control a vast array of biological processes. This Review discusses current advances in our understanding of the origin, biogenesis, and mode of action of plant miRNAs and draws comparisons with their metazoan counterparts.
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              Mechanisms of gene silencing by double-stranded RNA.

              Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is an important regulator of gene expression in many eukaryotes. It triggers different types of gene silencing that are collectively referred to as RNA silencing or RNA interference. A key step in known silencing pathways is the processing of dsRNAs into short RNA duplexes of characteristic size and structure. These short dsRNAs guide RNA silencing by specific and distinct mechanisms. Many components of the RNA silencing machinery still need to be identified and characterized, but a more complete understanding of the process is imminent.

                Author and article information

                Genome Biol
                Genome Biol
                Genome Biology
                BioMed Central
                15 June 2012
                : 13
                : 6
                : R47
                [1 ]Alson H Smith Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Winchester, VA 22602, USA
                [2 ]Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
                [3 ]Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Kearneysville, WV 25430, USA
                [4 ]Plant Genetics Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St Louis, MO 63132, USA
                Copyright ©2012 Xia et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                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 work is properly cited.




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