Plant Science

Interference in Plants

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Science  09 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5583, pp. 901
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5583.901b

The discovery of more than 150 micro RNAs (miRNAs) in animals suggests that these small ∼22-nucleotide RNAs are involved in a wide range of gene regulatory processes, a speculation supported by their diverse developmental and tissue-specific expression profiles. The well-characterized animal miRNAs lin4 and let7 are known to down-regulate the translation of their target messenger RNAs by binding to imperfectly matched binding sites.

Two groups, Llave et al. and Reinhart et al., report that miRNAs are present in Arabidopsis. Llave et al. identify 125 small RNAs, mostly from intergenic regions as expected but also from predicted coding regions and transposons. Reinhart et al. find 16 miRNAs similar to those characterized in animals. Intriguingly, both groups identify one miRNA that has a perfect antisense match to the coding region of a transcription factor, rather than the imperfect match seen in lin4 and let7. This is reminiscent of the perfect match between small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and their targets in RNA interference (RNAi), where the target is cleaved and destroyed, suggesting that this plant miRNA may function as an siRNA. — GR

Plant Cell14, 1 (2002); Genes Dev.16, 1616 (2002).

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