[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Artificial microRNAs (amiRNAs) and synthetic trans-acting small interfering RNAs (syn-tasiRNAs) are used for small RNA-based, specific gene silencing or knockdown in plants. Current methods to generate amiRNA or syn-tasiRNA constructs are not well adapted for cost-effective, large-scale production, or for multiplexing to specifically suppress multiple targets. Here we describe simple, fast and cost-effective methods with high-throughput capability to generate amiRNA and multiplexed syn-tasiRNA constructs for efficient gene silencing in Arabidopsis and other plant species. AmiRNA or syn-tasiRNA inserts resulting from the annealing of two overlapping and partially complementary oligonucleotides are ligated directionally into a zero background BsaI/ccdB ('B/c')-based expression vector. B/c vectors for amiRNA and syn-tasiRNA cloning and expression contain a modified version of Arabidopsis MIR390a or TAS1c precursors, respectively, in which a fragment of the endogenous sequence was substituted by a ccdB cassette. Several amiRNA and syn-tasiRNA sequences designed to target one or more endogenous genes were validated in transgenic plants that a) exhibited the expected phenotypes predicted by loss of target gene function, b) accumulated high levels of accurately processed amiRNAs or syn-tasiRNAs, and c) had reduced levels of the corresponding target RNAs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The wild grass Brachypodium distachyon has emerged as a model system for temperate grasses and biofuel plants. However, the global analysis of miRNAs, molecules known to be key for eukaryotic gene regulation, has been limited in B. distachyon to studies examining a few samples or that rely on computational predictions. Similarly an in-depth global analysis of miRNA-mediated target cleavage using Parallel Analysis of RNA Ends (PARE) data is lacking in B. distachyon.
B. distachyon small RNAs were cloned and deeply sequenced from 17 libraries that represent different tissues and stresses. Using a computational pipeline, we identified 116 miRNAs including not only conserved miRNAs that have not been reported in B. distachyon, but also non-conserved miRNAs that were not found in other plants. To investigate miRNA-mediated cleavage function, four PARE libraries were constructed from key tissues and sequenced to a total depth of approximately 70 million sequences. The roughly 5 million distinct genome-matched sequences that resulted represent an extensive dataset to analyze small RNA-guided cleavage events. Analysis of the PARE and miRNA data provided experimental evidence for miRNA-mediated cleavage of 264 sites in predicted miRNA targets. In addition, PARE analysis revealed that differentially expressed miRNAs in the same family guide specific target RNA cleavage in a correspondingly tissue-preferential manner.
B. distachyon miRNAs and target RNAs were experimentally identified and analyzed. Knowledge gained from this study should provide insights into the roles of miRNAs and the regulation of their targets in B. distachyon and related plants.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In eukaryotes, RNA silencing pathways utilize 20-30-nucleotide small RNAs to regulate gene expression, specify and maintain chromatin structure, and repress viruses and mobile genetic elements. RNA silencing was likely present in the common ancestor of modern eukaryotes, but most research has focused on plant and animal RNA silencing systems. Phytophthora species belong to a phylogenetically distinct group of economically important plant pathogens that cause billions of dollars in yield losses annually as well as ecologically devastating outbreaks. We analyzed the small RNA-generating components of the genomes of P. infestans, P. sojae and P. ramorum using bioinformatics, genetic, phylogenetic and high-throughput sequencing-based methods. Each species produces two distinct populations of small RNAs that are predominantly 21- or 25-nucleotides long. The 25-nucleotide small RNAs were primarily derived from loci encoding transposable elements and we propose that these small RNAs define a pathway of short-interfering RNAs that silence repetitive genetic elements. The 21-nucleotide small RNAs were primarily derived from inverted repeats, including a novel microRNA family that is conserved among the three species, and several gene families, including Crinkler effectors and type III fibronectins. The Phytophthora microRNA is predicted to target a family of amino acid/auxin permeases, and we propose that 21-nucleotide small RNAs function at the post-transcriptional level. The functional significance of microRNA-guided regulation of amino acid/auxin permeases and the association of 21-nucleotide small RNAs with Crinkler effectors remains unclear, but this work provides a framework for testing the role of small RNAs in Phytophthora biology and pathogenesis in future work.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(10):e77181. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In RNA-directed silencing pathways, ternary complexes result from small RNA-guided ARGONAUTE (AGO) associating with target transcripts. Target transcripts are often silenced through direct cleavage (slicing), destabilization through slicer-independent turnover mechanisms, and translational repression. Here, wild-type and active-site defective forms of several Arabidopsis thaliana AGO proteins involved in posttranscriptional silencing were used to examine several AGO functions, including small RNA binding, interaction with target RNA, slicing or destabilization of target RNA, secondary small interfering RNA formation, and antiviral activity. Complementation analyses in ago mutant plants revealed that the catalytic residues of AGO1, AGO2, and AGO7 are required to restore the defects of Arabidopsis ago1-25, ago2-1, and zip-1 (AGO7-defective) mutants, respectively. AGO2 had slicer activity in transient assays but could not trigger secondary small interfering RNA biogenesis, and catalytically active AGO2 was necessary for local and systemic antiviral activity against Turnip mosaic virus. Slicer-defective AGOs associated with miRNAs and stabilized AGO-miRNA-target RNA ternary complexes in individual target coimmunoprecipitation assays. In genome-wide AGO-miRNA-target RNA coimmunoprecipitation experiments, slicer-defective AGO1-miRNA associated with target RNA more effectively than did wild-type AGO1-miRNA. These data not only reveal functional roles for AGO1, AGO2, and AGO7 slicer activity, but also indicate an approach to capture ternary complexes more efficiently for genome-wide analyses.
The Plant Cell 09/2012; 24(9):3613-29. · 9.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In nematodes, plants, and fungi, RNAi is remarkably potent and persistent due to the amplification of initial silencing signals by RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRPs). In Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), the interaction between the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) loaded with primary small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and the target messenger RNA (mRNA) leads to the recruitment of RdRPs and synthesis of secondary siRNAs using the target mRNA as the template. The mechanism and genetic requirements for secondary siRNA accumulation are not well understood.
From a forward genetic screen for C. elegans genes required for RNAi, we identified rde-10, and through proteomic analysis of RDE-10-interacting proteins, we identified a protein complex containing the new RNAi factor RDE-11, the known RNAi factors RSD-2 and ERGO-1, and other candidate RNAi factors. The RNAi defective genes rde-10 and rde-11 encode a novel protein and a RING-type zinc finger domain protein, respectively. Mutations in rde-10 and rde-11 genes cause dosage-sensitive RNAi deficiencies: these mutants are resistant to low dosage but sensitive to high dosage of double-stranded RNAs. We assessed the roles of rde-10, rde-11, and other dosage-sensitive RNAi-defective genes rsd-2, rsd-6, and haf-6 in both exogenous and endogenous small RNA pathways using high-throughput sequencing and qRT-PCR. These genes are required for the accumulation of secondary siRNAs in both exogenous and endogenous RNAi pathways.
The RDE-10/RDE-11 complex is essential for the amplification of RNAi in C. elegans by promoting secondary siRNA accumulation.
Current biology: CB 04/2012; 22(10):881-90. · 10.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The improvement of the agricultural and wine-making qualities of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera) is hampered by adherence to traditional varieties, the recalcitrance of this plant to genetic modifications, and public resistance to genetically modified organism (GMO) technologies. To address these challenges, we developed an RNA virus-based vector for the introduction of desired traits into grapevine without heritable modifications to the genome. This vector expresses recombinant proteins in the phloem tissue that is involved in sugar transport throughout the plant, from leaves to roots to berries. Furthermore, the vector provides a powerful RNA interference (RNAi) capability of regulating the expression of endogenous genes via virus-induced gene-silencing (VIGS) technology. Additional advantages of this vector include superb genetic capacity and stability, as well as the swiftness of technology implementation. The most significant applications of the viral vector include functional genomics of the grapevine and disease control via RNAi-enabled vaccination against pathogens or invertebrate pests.
Journal of Virology 03/2012; 86(11):6002-9. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endogenous small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are a class of naturally occuring regulatory RNAs found in fungi, plants, and animals. Some endogenous siRNAs are required to silence transposons or function in chromosome segregation; however, the specific roles of most endogenous siRNAs are unclear. The helicase gene eri-6/7 was identified in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans by the enhanced response to exogenous double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) of the null mutant. eri-6/7 encodes a helicase homologous to small RNA factors Armitage in Drosophila, SDE3 in Arabidopsis, and Mov10 in humans. Here we show that eri-6/7 mutations cause the loss of 26-nucleotide (nt) endogenous siRNAs derived from genes and pseudogenes in oocytes and embryos, as well as deficiencies in somatic 22-nucleotide secondary siRNAs corresponding to the same loci. About 80 genes are eri-6/7 targets that generate the embryonic endogenous siRNAs that silence the corresponding mRNAs. These 80 genes share extensive nucleotide sequence homology and are poorly conserved, suggesting a role for these endogenous siRNAs in silencing of and thereby directing the fate of recently acquired, duplicated genes. Unlike most endogenous siRNAs in C. elegans, eri-6/7-dependent siRNAs require Dicer. We identify that the eri-6/7-dependent siRNAs have a passenger strand that is ∼19 nt and is inset by ∼3-4 nts from both ends of the 26 nt guide siRNA, suggesting non-canonical Dicer processing. Mutations in the Argonaute ERGO-1, which associates with eri-6/7-dependent 26 nt siRNAs, cause passenger strand stabilization, indicating that ERGO-1 is required to separate the siRNA duplex, presumably through endonucleolytic cleavage of the passenger strand. Thus, like several other siRNA-associated Argonautes with a conserved RNaseH motif, ERGO-1 appears to be required for siRNA maturation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the 207-Mb genome sequence of the North American Arabidopsis lyrata strain MN47 based on 8.3× dideoxy sequence coverage. We predict 32,670 genes in this outcrossing species compared to the 27,025 genes in the selfing species Arabidopsis thaliana. The much smaller 125-Mb genome of A. thaliana, which diverged from A. lyrata 10 million years ago, likely constitutes the derived state for the family. We found evidence for DNA loss from large-scale rearrangements, but most of the difference in genome size can be attributed to hundreds of thousands of small deletions, mostly in noncoding DNA and transposons. Analysis of deletions and insertions still segregating in A. thaliana indicates that the process of DNA loss is ongoing, suggesting pervasive selection for a smaller genome. The high-quality reference genome sequence for A. lyrata will be an important resource for functional, evolutionary and ecological studies in the genus Arabidopsis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: De novo DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana is catalyzed by the methyltransferase DRM2, a homolog of the mammalian de novo methyltransferase DNMT3. DRM2 is targeted to DNA by small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in a process known as RNA-directed DNA Methylation (RdDM). While several components of the RdDM pathway are known, a functional understanding of the underlying mechanism is far from complete. We employed both forward and reverse genetic approaches to identify factors involved in de novo methylation. We utilized the FWA transgene, which is methylated and silenced when transformed into wild-type plants, but unmethylated and expressed when transformed into de novo methylation mutants. Expression of FWA is marked by a late flowering phenotype, which is easily scored in mutant versus wild-type plants. By reverse genetics we discovered the requirement for known RdDM effectors AGO6 and NRPE5a for efficient de novo methylation. A forward genetic approach uncovered alleles of several components of the RdDM pathway, including alleles of clsy1, ktf1, and nrpd/e2, which have not been previously shown to be required for the initial establishment of DNA methylation. Mutations were mapped and genes cloned by both traditional and whole genome sequencing approaches. The methodologies and the mutant alleles discovered will be instrumental in further studies of de novo DNA methylation.
Epigenetics: official journal of the DNA Methylation Society 03/2011; 6(3):344-54. · 4.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small regulatory RNAs found in diverse eukaryotic lineages. In plants, a minority of annotated MIRNA gene families are conserved between plant families, while the majority are family- or species-specific, suggesting that most known MIRNA genes arose relatively recently in evolutionary time. Given the high proportion of young MIRNA genes in plant species, new MIRNA families are likely spawned and then lost frequently. Unlike highly conserved, ancient miRNAs, young miRNAs are often weakly expressed, processed imprecisely, lack targets, and display patterns of neutral variation, suggesting that young MIRNA loci tend to evolve neutrally. Genome-wide analyses from several plant species have revealed that variation in miRNA foldback expression, structure, processing efficiency, and miRNA size have resulted in the unique functionality of MIRNA loci and resulting miRNAs. Additionally, some miRNAs have evolved specific properties and functions that regulate other transcriptional or posttranscriptional silencing pathways. The evolution of miRNA processing and functional diversity underscores the dynamic nature of miRNA-based regulation in complex regulatory networks.
The Plant Cell 02/2011; 23(2):431-42. · 9.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: GENE-counter is a complete Perl-based computational pipeline for analyzing RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq) data for differential gene expression. In addition to its use in studying transcriptomes of eukaryotic model organisms, GENE-counter is applicable for prokaryotes and non-model organisms without an available genome reference sequence. For alignments, GENE-counter is configured for CASHX, Bowtie, and BWA, but an end user can use any Sequence Alignment/Map (SAM)-compliant program of preference. To analyze data for differential gene expression, GENE-counter can be run with any one of three statistics packages that are based on variations of the negative binomial distribution. The default method is a new and simple statistical test we developed based on an over-parameterized version of the negative binomial distribution. GENE-counter also includes three different methods for assessing differentially expressed features for enriched gene ontology (GO) terms. Results are transparent and data are systematically stored in a MySQL relational database to facilitate additional analyses as well as quality assessment. We used next generation sequencing to generate a small-scale RNA-Seq dataset derived from the heavily studied defense response of Arabidopsis thaliana and used GENE-counter to process the data. Collectively, the support from analysis of microarrays as well as the observed and substantial overlap in results from each of the three statistics packages demonstrates that GENE-counter is well suited for handling the unique characteristics of small sample sizes and high variability in gene counts.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(10):e25279. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Argonaute-associated siRNAs and Piwi-associated piRNAs have overlapping roles in silencing mobile genetic elements in animals. In Caenorhabditis elegans, mutator (mut) class genes mediate siRNA-guided repression of transposons as well as exogenous RNAi, but their roles in endogenous RNA silencing pathways are not well-understood. To characterize the endogenous small RNAs dependent on mut class genes, small RNA populations from a null allele of mut-16 as well as a regulatory mut-16(mg461) allele that disables only somatic RNAi were subjected to deep sequencing. Additionally, each of the mut class genes was tested for a requirement in 26G siRNA pathways. The results indicate that mut-16 is an essential factor in multiple endogenous germline and somatic siRNA pathways involving several distinct Argonautes and RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. The results also reveal essential roles for mut-2 and mut-7 in the ERGO-1 class 26G siRNA pathway and less critical roles for mut-8, mut-14, and mut-15. We show that transposons are hypersusceptible to mut-16-dependent silencing and identify a requirement for the siRNA machinery in piRNA biogenesis from Tc1 transposons. We also show that the soma-specific mut-16(mg461) mutant allele is present in multiple C. elegans laboratory strains.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2011; 108(4):1201-8. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Light signaling pathways and circadian clocks are inextricably linked and have profound effects on behavior in most organisms. Here, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) sequencing to uncover direct targets of the Neurospora crassa circadian regulator White Collar Complex (WCC). The WCC is a blue-light receptor and the key transcription factor of the circadian oscillator. It controls a transcriptional network that regulates ∼20% of all genes, generating daily rhythms and responses to light. We found that in response to light, WCC binds to hundreds of genomic regions, including the promoters of previously identified clock- and light-regulated genes. We show that WCC directly controls the expression of 24 transcription factor genes, including the clock-controlled adv-1 gene, which controls a circadian output pathway required for daily rhythms in development. Our findings provide links between the key circadian activator and effectors in downstream regulatory pathways.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Restriction of long-distance movement of several potyviruses in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) is controlled by at least three dominant restricted TEV movement (RTM) genes, named RTM1, RTM2, and RTM3. RTM1 encodes a protein belonging to the jacalin family, and RTM2 encodes a protein that has similarities to small heat shock proteins. In this article, we describe the positional cloning of RTM3, which encodes a protein belonging to an undescribed protein family of 29 members that has a meprin and TRAF homology (MATH) domain in its amino-terminal region and a coiled-coil domain at its carboxy-terminal end. Involvement in the RTM resistance system is the first biological function experimentally identified for a member of this new gene family in plants. Our analyses showed that the coiled-coil domain is not only highly conserved between RTM3-homologous MATH-containing proteins but also in proteins lacking a MATH domain. The cluster organization of the RTM3 homologs in the Arabidopsis genome suggests the role of duplication events in shaping the evolutionary history of this gene family, including the possibility of deletion or duplication of one or the other domain. Protein-protein interaction experiments revealed RTM3 self-interaction as well as an RTM1-RTM3 interaction. However, no interaction has been detected involving RTM2 or the potyviral coat protein previously shown to be the determinant necessary to overcome the RTM resistance. Taken together, these observations strongly suggest the RTM proteins might form a multiprotein complex in the resistance mechanism to block the long-distance movement of potyviruses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA interference pathways can involve amplification of secondary siRNAs by RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. In plants, RDR6-dependent secondary siRNAs arise from transcripts targeted by some microRNAs (miRNAs). Here, Arabidopsis thaliana secondary siRNAs from mRNA as well as trans-acting siRNAs are shown to be triggered through initial targeting by a 22-nucleotide (nt) miRNA that associates with AGO1. In contrast to canonical 21-nt miRNAs, 22-nt miRNAs primarily arise from foldback precursors containing asymmetric bulges. Using artificial miRNA constructs, conversion of asymmetric foldbacks to symmetric foldbacks resulted in the production of 21-nt forms of miR173, miR472 and miR828. Both 21- and 22-nt forms associated with AGO1 and guided accurate slicer activity, but only 22-nt forms were competent to trigger RDR6-dependent siRNA production from target RNA. These data suggest that AGO1 functions differentially with 21- and 22-nt miRNAs to engage the RDR6-associated amplification apparatus.