• Fang X, Zhao Y, Ma Q, Huang Y, Wang P, Zhang J, Nian H, Yang C. (2013) Identification and Comparative Analysis of Cadmium Tolerance-Associated miRNAs and Their Targets in Two Soybean Genotypes. PLoS ONE 8(12), :e81471.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play crucial roles in regulating the expression of various stress responses genes in plants. To investigate soybean (Glycine max) miRNAs involved in the response to cadmium (Cd), microarrays containing 953 unique miRNA probes were employed to identify differences in the expression patterns of the miRNAs between different genotypes, Huaxia3 (HX3, Cd-tolerant) and Zhonghuang24 (ZH24, Cd-sensitive). Twenty six Cd-responsive miRNAs were identified in total. Among them, nine were detected in both cultivars, while five were expressed only in HX3 and 12 were only in ZH24. The expression of 16 miRNAs was tested by qRT-PCR and most of the identified miRNAs were found to have similar expression patterns with microarray. Three hundred and seventy six target genes were identified for 204 miRNAs from a mixture degradome library, which was constructed from the root of HX3 and ZH24 with or without Cd treatment. Fifty five genes were identified to be cleaved by 14 Cd-responsive miRNAs. Gene ontology (GO) annotations showed that these target transcripts are implicated in a broad range of biological processes. In addition, the expression patterns of ten target genes were validated by qRT-PCR. The characterization of the miRNAs and the associated target genes in response to Cd exposure provides a framework for understanding the molecular mechanism of heavy metal tolerance in plants.

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