• Zhu H, Chen C, Zeng J, Yun Z, Liu Y, Qu H, Jiang Y, Duan X, Xia R. (2020) MicroRNA528, a hub regulator modulating ROS homeostasis via targeting of a diverse set of genes encoding copper-containing proteins in monocots. New Phytologist 225(1), 385-399.

Plant microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate vital cellular processes, including responses to extreme temperatures with which reactive oxygen species (ROS) are often closely associated. In the present study, it was found that aberrant temperatures caused extensive changes in abundance to numerous miRNAs in banana fruit, especially the copper (Cu)-associated miRNAs. Among them, miR528 was significantly downregulated under cold stress and it was found to target genes encoding polyphenol oxidase (PPO), different from those identified in rice and maize. Expression of PPO genes was upregulated by > 100-fold in cold conditions, leading to ROS surge and subsequent peel browning of banana fruit. Extensive comparative genomic analyses revealed that the monocot-specific miR528 can potentially target a large collection of genes encoding Cu-containing proteins. Most of them are actively involved in cellular ROS metabolism, including not only ROS generating oxidases, but also ROS scavenging enzymes. It also was demonstrated that miR528 has evolved a distinct preference of target genes in different monocots, with its target site varying in position among/within gene families, implying a highly dynamic process of target gene diversification. Its broad capacity to target genes encoding Cu-containing protein implicates miR528 as a key regulator for modulating the cellular ROS homeostasis in monocots.

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