• Ding Y, ing Y, Chen Z, Zhu C. (2011) Microarray-based analysis of cadmium-responsive microRNAs in rice (Oryza sativa). J Exp Bot 62(10), 3563-73.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate specific target mRNAs at the post-transcriptional level. Plant miRNAs have been implicated in developmental processes and adaptations to environmental stresses. Cadmium (Cd) is a non-essential heavy metal that is highly toxic to plants. To investigate the responsive functions of miRNAs under Cd stress, miRNA expression in Cd-stressed rice (Oryza sativa) was profiled using a microarray assay. A total of 19 Cd-responsive miRNAs were identified, of which six were further validated experimentally. Target genes were also predicted for these Cd-responsive miRNAs, which encoded transcription factors, and proteins associated with metabolic processes or stress responses. In addition, the mRNA levels of several targets were negatively correlated with the corresponding miRNAs under Cd stress. Promoter analysis showed that metal stress-responsive cis-elements tended to occur more frequently in the promoter regions of Cd-responsive miRNAs. These findings suggested that miRNAs played an important role in Cd tolerance in rice, and highlighted a novel molecular mechanism of heavy metal tolerance in plants.

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