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A big job for plant small RNA

The multifunctional plant small silencing RNAs (siRNAs) also have a part to play in stress and immune responses, hormone regulation and development phase transitions. EU researchers investigated how they travel in the plant to fulfil these tasks.
A big job for plant small RNA
Global coordination in plants is achieved by regulation of gene expression. Recent research points towards movement of siRNAs being responsible for gene output modulation through plant vascular tissue via pores in the cell walls of adjacent cells, plasmodesmata (PDs).

The MCCLDMS (Mechanisms and parameters controlling cell-to-cell and long-distance movement of plant small RNAs) project has looked into exactly what parameters control this cell-to-cell movement of siRNAs.

The researchers developed several tools to identify and track the movement of siRNAs within the plant. Two types of expression vector were used to construct transgenic plant lines by introducing selected genes.

They also collected mobile siRNAs to analyse their sequences in source tissues as well as recipient tissues. Furthermore, direct evidence of movement of sRNAs was collected through identification of PDs.

Mobile siRNAs were successfully detected at least two cell layers away from the donor cell. The analysis of gene sequencing revealed that all siRNAs produced by a given genetic loci are per se acting as non-cell autonomous siRNA species, with no distinction between mobile and non-mobile siRNAs.

The project team also looked into the mechanisms behind microRNA movement. Results indicate that there is a different control system to that of siRNAs, a promising area for future research.

Project research results show that all siRNAs produced within the plant can be transported to reach all tissues provided they have cytoplasm connection. This feature enables these sRNAs to counteract virus and transposon infection. Applications are significant for the genetic construction of crops to help them withstand pathogen attack.

Related information


Small silencing RNA, plasmodesmata, MCCLDMS, expression vector, gene sequencing
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