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Methylation as a Crucial Step in Plant microRNA Biogenesis

Science  11 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5711, pp. 932-935
DOI: 10.1126/science.1107130

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Abstract

Methylation on the base or the ribose is prevalent in eukaryotic ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) and is thought to be crucial for ribosome biogenesis and function. Artificially introduced 2′-O-methyl groups in small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) can stabilize siRNAs in serum without affecting their activities in RNA interference in mammalian cells. Here, we show that plant microRNAs (miRNAs) have a naturally occurring methyl group on the ribose of the last nucleotide. Whereas methylation of rRNAs depends on guide RNAs, the methyltransferase protein HEN1 is sufficient to methylate miRNA/miRNA* duplexes. Our studies uncover a new and crucial step in plant miRNA biogenesis and have profound implications in the function of miRNAs.

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