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Development of multicellular organisms depends on intercellular communication via mobile signals that provide positional information to coordinate cell fate decisions. In addition to peptide ligands, transcription factors, and hormones, plants use small RNAs as positional instructive signals. The unique patterning properties of small RNA gradients resulting from regulated mobility suggest conceptual similarities to the function of animal morphogens, and provide robustness and precision to the formation of cell fate boundaries. While common principles may underlie the formation, stability, and interpretation of both plant small RNA and animal morphogen gradients, the unique nature of small RNAs with respect to their biogenesis and target regulation imply important differences as well. In this review, we discuss the patterning properties of mobile small RNAs and highlight recent studies that have advanced our understanding of how small RNAs move, and how the graded accumulation that underlies their patterning activity could be created, maintained, and interpreted.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Current opinion in genetics & development
Small RNAs are central players of RNA silencing in eukaryotes. These short RNA molecules (20-25 nucleotides in length) repress target gene expression based on sequence complementarity. While small RNA...
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Small double-stranded, non-protein coding RNAs, 21-25 nucleotides in length generated from single-stranded microRNA gene transcripts by the same RIBONUCLEASE III, Dicer, that produces small interfering RNAs (RNA, SMALL INTERFERING). They become part of the RNA-INDUCED SILENCING COMPLEX and repress the translation (TRANSLATION, GENETIC) of target RNA by binding to homologous 3'UTR region as an imperfect match. The small temporal RNAs (stRNAs), let-7 and lin-4, from C. elegans, are the first 2 miRNAs discovered, and are from a class of miRNAs involved in developmental timing.
The processes occurring in early development that direct morphogenesis. They specify the body plan ensuring that cells will proceed to differentiate, grow, and diversify in size and shape at the correct relative positions. Included are axial patterning, segmentation, compartment specification, limb position, organ boundary patterning, blood vessel patterning, etc.
Small RNAs found in the cytoplasm usually complexed with proteins in scRNPs (RIBONUCLEOPROTEINS, SMALL CYTOPLASMIC).
Small nuclear RNAs that are involved in the processing of pre-ribosomal RNA in the nucleolus. Box C/D containing snoRNAs (U14, U15, U16, U20, U21 and U24-U63) direct site-specific methylation of various ribose moieties. Box H/ACA containing snoRNAs (E2, E3, U19, U23, and U64-U72) direct the conversion of specific uridines to pseudouridine. Site-specific cleavages resulting in the mature ribosomal RNAs are directed by snoRNAs U3, U8, U14, U22 and the snoRNA components of RNase MRP and RNase P.
Small double-stranded, non-protein coding RNAs (21-31 nucleotides) involved in GENE SILENCING functions, especially RNA INTERFERENCE (RNAi). Endogenously, siRNAs are generated from dsRNAs (RNA, DOUBLE-STRANDED) by the same ribonuclease, Dicer, that generates miRNAs (MICRORNAS). The perfect match of the siRNAs' antisense strand to their target RNAs mediates RNAi by siRNA-guided RNA cleavage. siRNAs fall into different classes including trans-acting siRNA (tasiRNA), repeat-associated RNA (rasiRNA), small-scan RNA (scnRNA), and Piwi protein-interacting RNA (piRNA) and have different specific gene silencing functions.