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1.  Historical Introgression of the Downy Mildew Resistance Gene Rpv12 from the Asian Species Vitis amurensis into Grapevine Varieties 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61228.
The Amur grape (Vitis amurensis Rupr.) thrives naturally in cool climates of Northeast Asia. Resistance against the introduced pathogen Plasmopara viticola is common among wild ecotypes that were propagated from Manchuria into Chinese vineyards or collected by Soviet botanists in Siberia, and used for the introgression of resistance into wine grapes (Vitis vinifera L.). A QTL analysis revealed a dominant gene Rpv12 that explained 79% of the phenotypic variance for downy mildew resistance and was inherited independently of other resistance genes. A Mendelian component of resistance–a hypersensitive response in leaves challenged with P. viticola–was mapped in an interval of 0.2 cM containing an array of coiled-coil NB-LRR genes on chromosome 14. We sequenced 10-kb genic regions in the Rpv12+ haplotype and identified polymorphisms in 12 varieties of V. vinifera using next-generation sequencing. The combination of two SNPs in single-copy genes flanking the NB-LRR cluster distinguished the resistant haplotype from all others found in 200 accessions of V. vinifera, V. amurensis, and V. amurensis x V. vinifera crosses. The Rpv12+ haplotype is shared by 15 varieties, the most ancestral of which are the century-old ‘Zarja severa’ and ‘Michurinets’. Before this knowledge, the chromosome segment around Rpv12+ became introgressed, shortened, and pyramided with another downy mildew resistance gene from North American grapevines (Rpv3) only by phenotypic selection. Rpv12+ has an additive effect with Rpv3+ to protect vines against natural infections, and confers foliar resistance to strains that are virulent on Rpv3+ plants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061228
PMCID: PMC3625174  PMID: 23593440
2.  Identification and Functional Analysis of Flowering Related microRNAs in Common Wild Rice (Oryza rufipogon Griff.) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82844.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) is a class of non-coding RNAs involved in post- transcriptional control of gene expression, via degradation and/or translational inhibition. Six-hundred sixty-one rice miRNAs are known that are important in plant development. However, flowering-related miRNAs have not been characterized in Oryza rufipogon Griff. It was approved by supervision department of Guangdong wild rice protection. We analyzed flowering-related miRNAs in O. rufipogon using high-throughput sequencing (deep sequencing) to understand the changes that occurred during rice domestication, and to elucidate their functions in flowering.
Results
Three O. rufipogon sRNA libraries, two vegetative stage (CWR-V1 and CWR-V2) and one flowering stage (CWR-F2) were sequenced using Illumina deep sequencing. A total of 20,156,098, 21,531,511 and 20,995,942 high quality sRNA reads were obtained from CWR-V1, CWR-V2 and CWR-F2, respectively, of which 3,448,185, 4,265,048 and 2,833,527 reads matched known miRNAs. We identified 512 known rice miRNAs in 214 miRNA families and predicted 290 new miRNAs. Targeted functional annotation, GO and KEGG pathway analyses predicted that 187 miRNAs regulate expression of flowering-related genes. Differential expression analysis of flowering-related miRNAs showed that: expression of 95 miRNAs varied significantly between the libraries, 66 are flowering-related miRNAs, such as oru-miR97, oru-miR117, oru-miR135, oru-miR137, et al. 17 are early-flowering -related miRNAs, including osa-miR160f, osa-miR164d, osa-miR167d, osa-miR169a, osa-miR172b, oru-miR4, et al., induced during the floral transition. Real-time PCR revealed the same expression patterns as deep sequencing. miRNAs targets were confirmed for cleavage by 5′-RACE in vivo, and were negatively regulated by miRNAs.
Conclusions
This is the first investigation of flowering miRNAs in wild rice. The result indicates that variation in miRNAs occurred during rice domestication and lays a foundation for further study of phase change and flowering in O. rufipogon. Complicated regulatory networks mediated by multiple miRNAs regulate the expression of flowering genes that control the induction of flowering.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082844
PMCID: PMC3875430  PMID: 24386120
3.  Grapevine microRNAs responsive to exogenous gibberellin 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:111.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), involving in various biological and metabolic processes, have been discovered and analyzed in quite a number of plants species, such as Arabidopsis, rice and other plants. However, there have been few reports about grapevine miRNAs in response to gibberelline (GA3).
Results
Solexa technology was used to sequence small RNA libraries constructed from grapevine berries treated with GA3 and the control. A total of 122 known and 90 novel grapevine miRNAs (Vvi-miRNAs) were identified. Totally, 137 ones were found to be clearly responsive to GA3, among which 58 were down-regulated, 51 were up-regulated, 21 could only be detected in the control, and seven were only detected in the treatment. Subsequently, we found that 28 of them were differentially regulated by GA3, with 12 conserved and 16 novel Vvi-miRNAs, based on the analysis of qRT-PCR essays. There existed some consistency in expression levels of GA3-responsive Vvi-miRNAs between high throughput sequencing and qRT-PCR essays. In addition, 117 target genes for 29 novel miRNAs were predicted.
Conclusions
Deep sequencing of short RNAs from grapevine berries treated with GA3 and the control identified 137 GA3-responsive miRNAs, among which 28 exhibited different expression profiles of response to GA3 in the diverse developmental stages of grapevine berries. These identified Vvi-miRNAs might be involved in the grapevine berry development and response to environmental stresses.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-111
PMCID: PMC3937062  PMID: 24507455
Grapevine; Berry; microRNAs; Exogenous gibberellin; High throughput sequencing
4.  Cloning and characterization of microRNAs from wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 
Genome Biology  2007;8(6):R96.
A small RNA library was used to identify 58 miRNAs from 43 miRNA families from wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and 46 potential targets were predicted.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small, non-coding regulatory RNAs that regulate gene expression by guiding target mRNA cleavage or translational inhibition. So far, identification of miRNAs has been limited to a few model plant species, such as Arabidopsis, rice and Populus, whose genomes have been sequenced. Wheat is one of the most important cereal crops worldwide. To date, only a few conserved miRNAs have been predicted in wheat and the computational identification of wheat miRNAs requires the genome sequence, which is unknown.
Results
To identify novel as well as conserved miRNAs in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), we constructed a small RNA library. High throughput sequencing of the library and subsequent analysis revealed the identification of 58 miRNAs, comprising 43 miRNA families. Of these, 35 miRNAs belong to 20 conserved miRNA families. The remaining 23 miRNAs are novel and form 23 miRNA families in wheat; more importantly, 4 of these new miRNAs (miR506, miR510, miR514 and miR516) appear to be monocot-specific. Northern blot analysis indicated that some of the new miRNAs are preferentially expressed in certain tissues. Based on sequence homology, we predicted 46 potential targets. Thus, we have identified a large number of monocot-specific and wheat-specific miRNAs. These results indicate that both conserved and wheat-specific miRNAs play important roles in wheat growth and development, stress responses and other physiological processes.
Conclusion
This study led to the discovery of 58 wheat miRNAs comprising 43 miRNA families; 20 of these families are conserved and 23 are novel in wheat. It provides a first large scale cloning and characterization of wheat miRNAs and their predicted targets.
doi:10.1186/gb-2007-8-6-r96
PMCID: PMC2394755  PMID: 17543110
5.  Characterization of microRNAs Identified in a Table Grapevine Cultivar with Validation of Computationally Predicted Grapevine miRNAs by miR-RACE 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e21259.
Background
Alignment analysis of the Vv-miRNAs identified from various grapevine cultivars indicates that over 30% orthologous Vv-miRNAs exhibit a 1–3 nucleotide discrepancy only at their ends, suggesting that this sequence discrepancy is not a random event, but might mainly derive from divergence of cultivars. With advantages of miR-RACE technology in determining precise sequences of potential miRNAs from bioinformatics prediction, the precise sequences of vv-miRNAs predicted computationally can be verified with miR-RACE in a different grapevine cultivar. This presents itself as a new approach for large scale discovery of precise miRNAs in different grapevine varieties.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Among 88 unique sequences of Vv-miRNAs from bioinformatics prediction, 83 (96.3%) were successfully validated with MiR-RACE in grapevine cv. ‘Summer Black’. All the validated sequences were identical to their corresponding ones obtained from deep sequencing of the small RNA library of ‘Summer Black’. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of the expressions levels of 10 Vv-miRNA/target gene pairs in grapevine tissues showed some negative correlation trends. Finally, comparison of Vv-miRNA sequences with their orthologs in Arabidopsis and study on the influence of divergent bases of the orthologous miRNAs on their targeting patterns in grapevine were also done.
Conclusion
The validation of precise sequences of potential Vv-miRNAs from computational prediction in a different grapevine cultivar can be a new way to identify the orthologous Vv-miRNAs. Nucleotide discrepancy of orthologous Vv-miRNAs from different grapevine cultivars normally does not change their target genes. However, sequence variations of some orthologous miRNAs in grapevine and Arabidopsis can change their targeting patterns. These precise Vv-miRNAs sequences validated in our study could benefit some further study on grapevine functional genomics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021259
PMCID: PMC3145640  PMID: 21829435
6.  Genome Wide Transcriptional Profile Analysis of Vitis amurensis and Vitis vinifera in Response to Cold Stress 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58740.
Grape is one of the most important fruit crops worldwide. The suitable geographical locations and productivity of grapes are largely limited by temperature. Vitis amurensis is a wild grapevine species with remarkable cold-tolerance, exceeding that of Vitis vinifera, the dominant cultivated species of grapevine. However, the molecular mechanisms that contribute to the enhanced freezing tolerance of V. amurensis remain unknown. Here we used deep sequencing data from restriction endonuclease-generated cDNA fragments to evaluate the whole genome wide modification of transcriptome of V. amurensis under cold treatment. Vitis vinifera cv. Muscat of Hamburg was used as control to help investigate the distinctive features of V. amruensis in responding to cold stress. Approximately 9 million tags were sequenced from non-cold treatment (NCT) and cold treatment (CT) cDNA libraries in each species of grapevine sampled from shoot apices. Alignment of tags into V. vinifera cv. Pinot noir (PN40024) annotated genome identified over 15,000 transcripts in each library in V. amruensis and more than 16,000 in Muscat of Hamburg. Comparative analysis between NCT and CT libraries indicate that V. amurensis has fewer differential expressed genes (DEGs, 1314 transcripts) than Muscat of Hamburg (2307 transcripts) when exposed to cold stress. Common DEGs (408 transcripts) suggest that some genes provide fundamental roles during cold stress in grapes. The most robust DEGs (more than 20-fold change) also demonstrated significant differences between two kinds of grapevine, indicating that cold stress may trigger species specific pathways in V. amurensis. Functional categories of DEGs indicated that the proportion of up-regulated transcripts related to metabolism, transport, signal transduction and transcription were more abundant in V. amurensis. Several highly expressed transcripts that were found uniquely accumulated in V. amurensis are discussed in detail. This subset of unique candidate transcripts may contribute to the excellent cold-hardiness of V. amurensis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058740
PMCID: PMC3596283  PMID: 23516547
7.  Identification and characterization of miRNAome in root, stem, leaf and tuber developmental stages of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) by high-throughput sequencing 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:6.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are ubiquitous components of endogenous plant transcriptome. miRNAs are small, single-stranded and ~21 nt long RNAs which regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level and are known to play essential roles in various aspects of plant development and growth. Previously, a number of miRNAs have been identified in potato through in silico analysis and deep sequencing approach. However, identification of miRNAs through deep sequencing approach was limited to a few tissue types and developmental stages. This study reports the identification and characterization of potato miRNAs in three different vegetative tissues and four stages of tuber development by high throughput sequencing.
Results
Small RNA libraries were constructed from leaf, stem, root and four early developmental stages of tuberization and subjected to deep sequencing, followed by bioinformatics analysis. A total of 89 conserved miRNAs (belonging to 33 families), 147 potato-specific miRNAs (with star sequence) and 112 candidate potato-specific miRNAs (without star sequence) were identified. The digital expression profiling based on TPM (Transcripts Per Million) and qRT-PCR analysis of conserved and potato-specific miRNAs revealed that some of the miRNAs showed tissue specific expression (leaf, stem and root) while a few demonstrated tuberization stage-specific expressions. Targets were predicted for identified conserved and potato-specific miRNAs, and predicted targets of four conserved miRNAs, miR160, miR164, miR172 and miR171, which are ARF16 (Auxin Response Factor 16), NAM (NO APICAL MERISTEM), RAP1 (Relative to APETALA2 1) and HAM (HAIRY MERISTEM) respectively, were experimentally validated using 5′ RLM-RACE (RNA ligase mediated rapid amplification of cDNA ends). Gene ontology (GO) analysis for potato-specific miRNAs was also performed to predict their potential biological functions.
Conclusions
We report a comprehensive study of potato miRNAs at genome-wide level by high-throughput sequencing and demonstrate that these miRNAs have tissue and/or developmental stage-specific expression profile. Also, predicted targets of conserved miRNAs were experimentally confirmed for the first time in potato. Our findings indicate the existence of extensive and complex small RNA population in this crop and suggest their important role in pathways involved in diverse biological processes, including tuber development.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-6
PMCID: PMC3913621  PMID: 24397411
Potato; Tuberization; microRNA; High-throughput sequencing; Digital expression profiling; qRT-PCR; Target; Gene ontology; RLM-RACE
8.  Correction: High throughput approaches reveal splicing of primary microRNA transcripts and tissue specific expression of mature microRNAs in Vitis vinifera 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:109.
The version of this article published in BMC Genomics 2009, 10:558, contains data in Table 1 which are now known to be unreliable, and an illustration, in Figure 1, of unusual miRNA processing events predicted by these unreliable data. In this full-length correction, new data replace those found to be unreliable, leading to a more straightforward interpretation without altering the principle conclusions of the study. Table 1 and associated methods have been corrected, Figure 1 deleted, supplementary file 1 added, and modifications made to the sections "Deep sequencing of small RNAs from grapevine leaf tissue" and "Microarray analysis of miRNA expression". The editors and authors regret the inconvenience caused to readers by premature publication of the original paper.
Background
MicroRNAs are short (~21 base) single stranded RNAs that, in plants, are generally coded by specific genes and cleaved specifically from hairpin precursors. MicroRNAs are critical for the regulation of multiple developmental, stress related and other physiological processes in plants. The recent annotation of the genome of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) allowed the identification of many putative conserved microRNA precursors, grouped into multiple gene families.
Results
Here we use oligonucleotide arrays to provide the first indication that many of these microRNAs show differential expression patterns between tissues and during the maturation of fruit in the grapevine. Furthermore we demonstrate that whole transcriptome sequencing and deep-sequencing of small RNA fractions can be used both to identify which microRNA precursors are expressed in different tissues and to estimate genomic coordinates and patterns of splicing and alternative splicing for many primary miRNA transcripts.
Conclusions
Our results show that many microRNAs are differentially expressed in different tissues and during fruit maturation in the grapevine. Furthermore, the demonstration that whole transcriptome sequencing can be used to identify candidate splicing events and approximate primary microRNA transcript coordinates represents a significant step towards the large-scale elucidation of mechanisms regulating the expression of microRNAs at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-109
PMCID: PMC2831844  PMID: 20152027
9.  A Leafhopper-Transmissible DNA Virus with Novel Evolutionary Lineage in the Family Geminiviridae Implicated in Grapevine Redleaf Disease by Next-Generation Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64194.
A graft-transmissible disease displaying red veins, red blotches and total reddening of leaves in red-berried wine grape (Vitis vinifera L.) cultivars was observed in commercial vineyards. Next-generation sequencing technology was used to identify etiological agent(s) associated with this emerging disease, designated as grapevine redleaf disease (GRD). High quality RNA extracted from leaves of grape cultivars Merlot and Cabernet Franc with and without GRD symptoms was used to prepare cDNA libraries. Assembly of highly informative sequence reads generated from Illumina sequencing of cDNA libraries, followed by bioinformatic analyses of sequence contigs resulted in specific identification of taxonomically disparate viruses and viroids in samples with and without GRD symptoms. A single-stranded DNA virus, tentatively named Grapevine redleaf-associated virus (GRLaV), and Grapevine fanleaf virus were detected only in grapevines showing GRD symptoms. In contrast, Grapevine rupestris stem pitting-associated virus, Hop stunt viroid, Grapevine yellow speckle viroid 1, Citrus exocortis viroid and Citrus exocortis Yucatan viroid were present in both symptomatic and non-symptomatic grapevines. GRLaV was transmitted by the Virginia creeper leafhopper (Erythroneura ziczac Walsh) from grapevine-to-grapevine under greenhouse conditions. Molecular and phylogenetic analyses indicated that GRLaV, almost identical to recently reported Grapevine Cabernet Franc-associated virus from New York and Grapevine red blotch-associated virus from California, represents an evolutionarily distinct lineage in the family Geminiviridae with genome characteristics distinct from other leafhopper-transmitted geminiviruses. GRD significantly reduced fruit yield and affected berry quality parameters demonstrating negative impacts of the disease. Higher quantities of carbohydrates were present in symptomatic leaves suggesting their possible role in the expression of redleaf symptoms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064194
PMCID: PMC3673993  PMID: 23755117
10.  The miRNAome of globe artichoke: conserved and novel micro RNAs and target analysis 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:41.
Background
Plant microRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms of several processes, including the response to biotic and abiotic stress, often contributing to the adaptive response of the plant to adverse conditions. In addition to conserved miRNAs, found in a wide range of plant species a number of novel species-specific miRNAs, displaying lower levels of expression can be found. Due to low abundance, non conserved miRNAs are difficult to identify and isolate using conventional approaches. Conversely, deep-sequencing of small RNA (sRNA) libraries can detect even poorly expressed miRNAs.
No miRNAs from globe artichoke have been described to date. We analyzed the miRNAome from artichoke by deep sequencing four sRNA libraries obtained from NaCl stressed and control leaves and roots.
Results
Conserved and novel miRNAs were discovered using accepted criteria. The expression level of selected miRNAs was monitored by quantitative real-time PCR. Targets were predicted and validated for their cleavage site. A total of 122 artichoke miRNAs were identified, 98 (25 families) of which were conserved with other plant species, and 24 were novel. Some miRNAs were differentially expressed according to tissue or condition, magnitude of variation after salt stress being more pronounced in roots. Target function was predicted by comparison to Arabidopsis proteins; the 43 targets (23 for novel miRNAs) identified included transcription factors and other genes, most of which involved in the response to various stresses. An unusual cleaved transcript was detected for miR393 target, transport inhibitor response 1.
Conclusions
The miRNAome from artichoke, including novel miRNAs, was unveiled, providing useful information on the expression in different organs and conditions. New target genes were identified. We suggest that the generation of secondary short-interfering RNAs from miR393 target can be a general rule in the plant kingdom.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-41
PMCID: PMC3285030  PMID: 22272770
11.  Direct sequencing and expression analysis of a large number of miRNAs in Aedes aegypti and a multi-species survey of novel mosquito miRNAs 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:581.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a novel class of gene regulators whose biogenesis involves hairpin structures called precursor miRNAs, or pre-miRNAs. A pre-miRNA is processed to make a miRNA:miRNA* duplex, which is then separated to generate a mature miRNA and a miRNA*. The mature miRNAs play key regulatory roles during embryonic development as well as other cellular processes. They are also implicated in control of viral infection as well as innate immunity. Direct experimental evidence for mosquito miRNAs has been recently reported in anopheline mosquitoes based on small-scale cloning efforts.
Results
We obtained approximately 130, 000 small RNA sequences from the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, by 454 sequencing of samples that were isolated from mixed-age embryos and midguts from sugar-fed and blood-fed females, respectively. We also performed bioinformatics analysis on the Ae. aegypti genome assembly to identify evidence for additional miRNAs. The combination of these approaches uncovered 98 different pre-miRNAs in Ae. aegypti which could produce 86 distinct miRNAs. Thirteen miRNAs, including eight novel miRNAs identified in this study, are currently only found in mosquitoes. We also identified five potential revisions to previously annotated miRNAs at the miRNA termini, two cases of highly abundant miRNA* sequences, 14 miRNA clusters, and 17 cases where more than one pre-miRNA hairpin produces the same or highly similar mature miRNAs. A number of miRNAs showed higher levels in midgut from blood-fed female than that from sugar-fed female, which was confirmed by northern blots on two of these miRNAs. Northern blots also revealed several miRNAs that showed stage-specific expression. Detailed expression analysis of eight of the 13 mosquito-specific miRNAs in four divergent mosquito genera identified cases of clearly conserved expression patterns and obvious differences. Four of the 13 miRNAs are specific to certain lineage(s) within mosquitoes.
Conclusion
This study provides the first systematic analysis of miRNAs in Ae. aegypti and offers a substantially expanded list of miRNAs for all mosquitoes. New insights were gained on the evolution of conserved and lineage-specific miRNAs in mosquitoes. The expression profiles of a few miRNAs suggest stage-specific functions and functions related to embryonic development or blood feeding. A better understanding of the functions of these miRNAs will offer new insights in mosquito biology and may lead to novel approaches to combat mosquito-borne infectious diseases.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-581
PMCID: PMC2797818  PMID: 19961592
12.  Transcriptome-Wide Identification and Characterization of MicroRNAs from Castor Bean (Ricinus communis L.) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69995.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenously encoded small RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression and play essential roles in numerous developmental and physiological processes. Currently, little information on the transcriptome and tissue-specific expression of miRNAs is available in the model non-edible oilseed crop castor bean (Ricinus communis L.), one of the most important non-edible oilseed crops cultivated worldwide. Recent advances in sequencing technologies have allowed the identification of conserved and novel miRNAs in many plant species. Here, we used high-throughput sequencing technologies to identify and characterize the miRNAs in castor bean.
Results
Five small RNA libraries were constructed for deep sequencing from root tips, leaves, developing seeds (at the initial stage, seed1; and at the fast oil accumulation stage, seed2) and endosperms in castor bean. High-throughput sequencing generated a large number of sequence reads of small RNAs in this study. In total, 86 conserved miRNAs were identified, including 63 known and 23 newly identified. Sixteen miRNA isoform variants in length were found from the conserved miRNAs of castor bean. MiRNAs displayed diverse organ-specific expression levels among five libraries. Combined with criteria for miRNA annotation and a RT-PCR approach, 72 novel miRNAs and their potential precursors were annotated and 20 miRNAs newly identified were validated. In addition, new target candidates for miRNAs newly identified in this study were proposed.
Conclusions
The current study presents the first high-throughput small RNA sequencing study performed in castor bean to identify its miRNA population. It characterizes and increases the number of miRNAs and their isoforms identified in castor bean. The miRNA expression analysis provides a foundation for understanding castor bean miRNA organ-specific expression patterns. The present study offers an expanded picture of miRNAs for castor bean and other members in the family Euphorbiaceae.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069995
PMCID: PMC3722108  PMID: 23894571
13.  Genomic Organization, Phylogenetic Comparison and Differential Expression of the SBP-Box Family Genes in Grape 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59358.
Background
The SBP-box gene family is specific to plants and encodes a class of zinc finger-containing transcription factors with a broad range of functions. Although SBP-box genes have been identified in numerous plants including green algae, moss, silver birch, snapdragon, Arabidopsis, rice and maize, there is little information concerning SBP-box genes, or the corresponding miR156/157, function in grapevine.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Eighteen SBP-box gene family members were identified in Vitis vinifera, twelve of which bore sequences that were complementary to miRNA156/157. Phylogenetic reconstruction demonstrated that plant SBP-domain proteins could be classified into seven subgroups, with the V. vinifera SBP-domain proteins being more closely related to SBP-domain proteins from dicotyledonous angiosperms than those from monocotyledonous angiosperms. In addition, synteny analysis between grape and Arabidopsis demonstrated that homologs of several grape SBP genes were found in corresponding syntenic blocks of Arabidopsis. Expression analysis of the grape SBP-box genes in various organs and at different stages of fruit development in V. quinquangularis ‘Shang-24’ revealed distinct spatiotemporal patterns. While the majority of the grape SBP-box genes lacking a miR156/157 target site were expressed ubiquitously and constitutively, most genes bearing a miR156/157 target site exhibited distinct expression patterns, possibly due to the inhibitory role of the microRNA. Furthermore, microarray data mining and quantitative real-time RT-PCR analysis identified several grape SBP-box genes that are potentially involved in the defense against biotic and abiotic stresses.
Conclusion
The results presented here provide a further understanding of SBP-box gene function in plants, and yields additional insights into the mechanism of stress management in grape, which may have important implications for the future success of this crop.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059358
PMCID: PMC3601960  PMID: 23527172
14.  Cloning, characterization, and expression of microRNAs from the Asian malaria mosquito, Anopheles stephensi 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:244.
Background
microRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding RNAs that are now recognized as a major class of gene-regulating molecules widely distributed in metozoans and plants. miRNAs have been found to play important roles in apoptosis, cancer, development, differentiation, inflammation, longevity, and viral infection. There are a few reports describing miRNAs in the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, on the basis of similarity to known miRNAs from other species. An. stephensi is the most important malaria vector in Asia and it is becoming a model Anopheline species for physiological and genetics studies.
Results
We report the cloning and characterization of 27 distinct miRNAs from 17-day old An. stephensi female mosquitoes. Seventeen of the 27 miRNAs matched previously predicted An. gambiae miRNAs, offering the first experimental verification of miRNAs from mosquito species. Ten of the 27 are miRNAs previously unknown to mosquitoes, four of which did not match any known miRNAs in any organism. Twenty-five of the 27 Anopheles miRNAs had conserved sequences in the genome of a divergent relative, the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. Two clusters of miRNAs were found within introns of orthologous genes in An. gambiae, Ae. aegypti, and Drosophila melanogaster. Mature miRNAs were detected in An. stephensi for all of the nine selected miRNAs, including the four novel miRNAs (miR-x1- miR-x4), either by northern blot or by Ribonuclease Protection Assay. Expression profile analysis of eight of these miRNAs revealed distinct expression patterns from early embryo to adult stages in An. stephensi. In both An. stephensi and Ae. aegypti, the expression of miR-x2 was restricted to adult females and predominantly in the ovaries. A significant reduction of miR-x2 level was observed 72 hrs after a blood meal. Thus miR-x2 is likely involved in female reproduction and its function may be conserved among divergent mosquitoes. A mosquito homolog of miR-14, a regulator of longevity and apoptosis in D. melanogaster, represented 25% of all sequenced miRNA clones from 17-day old An. stephensi female mosquitoes. An. stephensi miR-14 displayed a relatively strong signal from late embryonic to adult stages. miR-14 expression is consistent during the adult lifespan regardless of age, sex, and blood feeding status. Thus miR-14 is likely important across all mosquito life stages.
Conclusion
This study provides experimental evidence for 23 conserved and four new microRNAs in An. stephensi mosquitoes. Comparisons between miRNA gene clusters in Anopheles and Aedes mosquitoes, and in D. melanogaster suggest the loss or significant change of two miRNA genes in Ae. aegypti. Expression profile analysis of eight miRNAs, including the four new miRNAs, revealed distinct patterns from early embryo to adult stages in An. stephensi. Further analysis showed that miR-x2 is likely involved in female reproduction and its function may be conserved among divergent mosquitoes. Consistent expression of miR-14 suggests that it is likely important across all mosquito life stages from embryos to aged adults. Understanding the functions of mosquito miRNAs will undoubtedly contribute to a better understanding of mosquito biology including longevity, reproduction, and mosquito-pathogen interactions, which are important to disease transmission.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-244
PMCID: PMC2430712  PMID: 18500992
15.  Genome-Wide Identification of Schistosoma japonicum MicroRNAs Using a Deep-Sequencing Approach 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8206.
Background
Human schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent and serious parasitic diseases worldwide. Schistosoma japonicum is one of important pathogens of this disease. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a large group of non-coding RNAs that play important roles in regulating gene expression and protein translation in animals. Genome-wide identification of miRNAs in a given organism is a critical step to facilitating our understanding of genome organization, genome biology, evolution, and posttranscriptional regulation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We sequenced two small RNA libraries prepared from different stages of the life cycle of S. japonicum, immature schistosomula and mature pairing adults, through a deep DNA sequencing approach, which yielded ∼12 million high-quality short sequence reads containing a total of ∼2 million non-redundant tags. Based on a bioinformatics pipeline, we identified 176 new S. japonicum miRNAs, of which some exhibited a differential pattern of expression between the two stages. Although 21 S. japonicum miRNAs are orthologs of known miRNAs within the metazoans, some nucleotides at many positions of Schistosoma miRNAs, such as miR-8, let-7, miR-10, miR-31, miR-92, miR-124, and miR-125, are indeed significantly distinct from other bilaterian orthologs. In addition, both miR-71 and some miR-2 family members in tandem are found to be clustered in a reversal direction model on two genomic loci, and two pairs of novel S. japonicum miRNAs were derived from sense and antisense DNA strands at the same genomic loci.
Conclusions/Significance
The collection of S. japonicum miRNAs could be used as a new platform to study the genomic structure, gene regulation and networks, evolutionary processes, development, and host-parasite interactions. Some S. japonicum miRNAs and their clusters could represent the ancestral forms of the conserved orthologues and a model for the genesis of novel miRNAs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008206
PMCID: PMC2785426  PMID: 19997615
16.  Identification and characterization of microRNAs in Phaseolus vulgaris by high-throughput sequencing 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:83.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenously encoded small RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression. MiRNAs play essential roles in almost all plant biological processes. Currently, few miRNAs have been identified in the model food legume Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean). Recent advances in next generation sequencing technologies have allowed the identification of conserved and novel miRNAs in many plant species. Here, we used Illumina's sequencing by synthesis (SBS) technology to identify and characterize the miRNA population of Phaseolus vulgaris.
Results
Small RNA libraries were generated from roots, flowers, leaves, and seedlings of P. vulgaris. Based on similarity to previously reported plant miRNAs,114 miRNAs belonging to 33 conserved miRNA families were identified. Stem-loop precursors and target gene sequences for several conserved common bean miRNAs were determined from publicly available databases. Less conserved miRNA families and species-specific common bean miRNA isoforms were also characterized. Moreover, novel miRNAs based on the small RNAs were found and their potential precursors were predicted. In addition, new target candidates for novel and conserved miRNAs were proposed. Finally, we studied organ-specific miRNA family expression levels through miRNA read frequencies.
Conclusions
This work represents the first massive-scale RNA sequencing study performed in Phaseolus vulgaris to identify and characterize its miRNA population. It significantly increases the number of miRNAs, precursors, and targets identified in this agronomically important species. The miRNA expression analysis provides a foundation for understanding common bean miRNA organ-specific expression patterns. The present study offers an expanded picture of P. vulgaris miRNAs in relation to those of other legumes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-83
PMCID: PMC3359237  PMID: 22394504
17.  Identification of a Novel Marine Fish Virus, Singapore Grouper Iridovirus-Encoded MicroRNAs Expressed in Grouper Cells by Solexa Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19148.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are ubiquitous non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. An increasing number of studies has revealed that viruses can also encode miRNAs, which are proposed to be involved in viral replication and persistence, cell-mediated antiviral immune response, angiogenesis, and cell cycle regulation. Singapore grouper iridovirus (SGIV) is a pathogenic iridovirus that has severely affected grouper aquaculture in China and Southeast Asia. Comprehensive knowledge about the related miRNAs during SGIV infection is helpful for understanding the infection and the pathogenic mechanisms.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To determine whether SGIV encoded miRNAs during infection, a small RNA library derived from SGIV-infected grouper (GP) cells was constructed and sequenced by Illumina/Solexa deep-sequencing technology. We recovered 6,802,977 usable reads, of which 34,400 represented small RNA sequences encoded by SGIV. Sixteen novel SGIV-encoded miRNAs were identified by a computational pipeline, including a miRNA that shared a similar sequence to herpesvirus miRNA HSV2-miR-H4-5p, which suggests miRNAs are conserved in far related viruses. Generally, these 16 miRNAs are dispersed throughout the SGIV genome, whereas three are located within the ORF057L region. Some SGIV-encoded miRNAs showed marked sequence and length heterogeneity at their 3′ and/or 5′ end that could modulate their functions. Expression levels and potential biological activities of these viral miRNAs were examined by stem-loop quantitative RT-PCR and luciferase reporter assay, respectively, and 11 of these viral miRNAs were present and functional in SGIV-infected GP cells.
Conclusions
Our study provided a genome-wide view of miRNA production for iridoviruses and identified 16 novel viral miRNAs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first experimental demonstration of miRNAs encoded by aquatic animal viruses. The results provide a useful resource for further in-depth studies on SGIV infection and iridovirus pathogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019148
PMCID: PMC3084752  PMID: 21559453
18.  microRNAs of parasitic helminths – Identification, characterization and potential as drug targets 
Graphical abstract
Highlights
•Importance of microRNAs in helminth post-transcriptional gene regulation is reviewed.•Increasing helminth miRNA data are available from deep sequencing.•Some miRNAs are helminth-specific, many are novel to each species.•miRNAs may regulate parasite and host gene expression.•Uptake of miRNA inhibitors and mimics is feasible for functional analysis.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation. They were first identified in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, where the miRNAs lin-4 and let-7 were shown to be essential for regulating correct developmental progression. The sequence of let-7 was subsequently found to be conserved in higher organisms and changes in expression of let-7, as well as other miRNAs, are associated with certain cancers, indicating important regulatory roles. Some miRNAs have been shown to have essential functions, but the roles of many are currently unknown. With the increasing availability of genome sequence data, miRNAs have now been identified from a number of parasitic helminths, by deep sequencing of small RNA libraries and bioinformatic approaches. While some miRNAs are widely conserved in a range of organisms, others are helminth-specific and many are novel to each species. Here we review the potential roles of miRNAs in regulating helminth development, in interacting with the host environment and in development of drug resistance. Use of fluorescently-labeled small RNAs demonstrates uptake by parasites, at least in vitro. Therefore delivery of miRNA inhibitors or mimics has potential to alter miRNA activity, providing a useful tool for probing the roles of miRNAs and suggesting novel routes to therapeutics for parasite control.
doi:10.1016/j.ijpddr.2014.03.001
PMCID: PMC4095049  PMID: 25057458
microRNAs; Parasite; Helminth; Caenorhabditis elegans; Gene regulation; Therapeutic
19.  MicroRNAs and their putative targets in Brassica napus seed maturation 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:140.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 20–21 nucleotide RNA molecules that suppress the transcription of target genes and may also inhibit translation. Despite the thousands of miRNAs identified and validated in numerous plant species, only small numbers have been identified from the oilseed crop plant Brassica napus (canola) – especially in seeds.
Results
Using next-generation sequencing technologies, we performed a comprehensive analysis of miRNAs during seed maturation at 9 time points from 10 days after flowering (DAF) to 50 DAF using whole seeds and included separate analyses of radicle, hypocotyl, cotyledon, embryo, endosperm and seed coat tissues at 4 selected time points. We identified more than 500 conserved miRNA or variant unique sequences with >300 sequence reads and also found 10 novel miRNAs. Only 27 of the conserved miRNA sequences had been previously identified in B. napus (miRBase Release 18). More than 180 MIRNA loci were identified/annotated using the B. rapa genome as a surrogate for the B.napus A genome. Numerous miRNAs were expressed in a stage- or tissue-specific manner suggesting that they have specific functions related to the fine tuning of transcript abundance during seed development. miRNA targets in B. napus were predicted and their expression patterns profiled using microarray analyses. Global correlation analysis of the expression patterns of miRNAs and their targets revealed complex miRNA-target gene regulatory networks during seed development. The miR156 family was the most abundant and the majority of the family members were primarily expressed in the embryo.
Conclusions
Large numbers of miRNAs with diverse expression patterns, multiple-targeting and co-targeting of many miRNAs, and complex relationships between expression of miRNAs and targets were identified in this study. Several key miRNA-target expression patterns were identified and new roles of miRNAs in regulating seed development are suggested. miR156, miR159, miR172, miR167, miR158 and miR166 are the major contributors to the network controlling seed development and maturation through their pivotal roles in plant development. miR156 may regulate the developmental transition to germination.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-140
PMCID: PMC3602245  PMID: 23448243
Seed development; Embryo; Next generation sequencing
20.  Identification and profiling of novel microRNAs in the Brassica rapa genome based on small RNA deep sequencing 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:218.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are one of the functional non-coding small RNAs involved in the epigenetic control of the plant genome. Although plants contain both evolutionary conserved miRNAs and species-specific miRNAs within their genomes, computational methods often only identify evolutionary conserved miRNAs. The recent sequencing of the Brassica rapa genome enables us to identify miRNAs and their putative target genes. In this study, we sought to provide a more comprehensive prediction of B. rapa miRNAs based on high throughput small RNA deep sequencing.
Results
We sequenced small RNAs from five types of tissue: seedlings, roots, petioles, leaves, and flowers. By analyzing 2.75 million unique reads that mapped to the B. rapa genome, we identified 216 novel and 196 conserved miRNAs that were predicted to target approximately 20% of the genome’s protein coding genes. Quantitative analysis of miRNAs from the five types of tissue revealed that novel miRNAs were expressed in diverse tissues but their expression levels were lower than those of the conserved miRNAs. Comparative analysis of the miRNAs between the B. rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana genomes demonstrated that redundant copies of conserved miRNAs in the B. rapa genome may have been deleted after whole genome triplication. Novel miRNA members seemed to have spontaneously arisen from the B. rapa and A. thaliana genomes, suggesting the species-specific expansion of miRNAs. We have made this data publicly available in a miRNA database of B. rapa called BraMRs. The database allows the user to retrieve miRNA sequences, their expression profiles, and a description of their target genes from the five tissue types investigated here.
Conclusions
This is the first report to identify novel miRNAs from Brassica crops using genome-wide high throughput techniques. The combination of computational methods and small RNA deep sequencing provides robust predictions of miRNAs in the genome. The finding of numerous novel miRNAs, many with few target genes and low expression levels, suggests the rapid evolution of miRNA genes. The development of a miRNA database, BraMRs, enables us to integrate miRNA identification, target prediction, and functional annotation of target genes. BraMRs will represent a valuable public resource with which to study the epigenetic control of B. rapa and other closely related Brassica species. The database is available at the following link: http://bramrs.rna.kr [1].
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-218
PMCID: PMC3554443  PMID: 23163954
Brassica rapa; Genome; miRNA; miRNA target; Small RNA sequencing; Database
21.  A Genome-Wide Characterization of MicroRNA Genes in Maize 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(11):e1000716.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that play essential roles in plant growth, development, and stress response. We conducted a genome-wide survey of maize miRNA genes, characterizing their structure, expression, and evolution. Computational approaches based on homology and secondary structure modeling identified 150 high-confidence genes within 26 miRNA families. For 25 families, expression was verified by deep-sequencing of small RNA libraries that were prepared from an assortment of maize tissues. PCR–RACE amplification of 68 miRNA transcript precursors, representing 18 families conserved across several plant species, showed that splice variation and the use of alternative transcriptional start and stop sites is common within this class of genes. Comparison of sequence variation data from diverse maize inbred lines versus teosinte accessions suggest that the mature miRNAs are under strong purifying selection while the flanking sequences evolve equivalently to other genes. Since maize is derived from an ancient tetraploid, the effect of whole-genome duplication on miRNA evolution was examined. We found that, like protein-coding genes, duplicated miRNA genes underwent extensive gene-loss, with ∼35% of ancestral sites retained as duplicate homoeologous miRNA genes. This number is higher than that observed with protein-coding genes. A search for putative miRNA targets indicated bias towards genes in regulatory and metabolic pathways. As maize is one of the principal models for plant growth and development, this study will serve as a foundation for future research into the functional roles of miRNA genes.
Author Summary
MicroRNAs are non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally and play roles in diverse pathways including those acting on development and responses to stress. Here, we describe a genome-wide computational prediction of maize miRNA genes and their characterization with respect to expression, putative targets, evolution following whole genome duplication, and allelic diversity. The structures of unprocessed primary miRNA transcripts were determined by 5′ RACE and 3′ RACE. Expression profiles were surveyed in five tissue types by deep-sequencing of small RNA libraries. We predicted miRNA targets computationally based on the most recent maize protein annotations. Analysis of the predicted functions of target genes, on the basis of gene ontology, supported their roles in regulatory processes. We identified putative orthologs in Sorghum based on an analysis of synteny and found that maize-homoeologous miRNA genes were retained more frequently than expected. We also explored miRNA nucleotide diversity among many maize inbred lines and partially inbred teosinte lines. The results indicated that mature miRNA genes were highly conserved during their evolution. This preliminary characterization based on our findings provides a framework for future analysis of miRNA genes and their roles in key traits of maize as feed, fodder, and biofuel.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000716
PMCID: PMC2773440  PMID: 19936050
22.  Identification and Characterization of Novel MicroRNAs from Schistosoma japonicum 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4034.
Background
Schistosomiasis japonica remains a major public health problem in China. Its pathogen, Schistosoma japonicum has a complex life cycle and a unique repertoire of genes expressed at different life cycle stages. Exploring schistosome gene regulation will yield the best prospects for new drug targets and vaccine candidates. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a highly conserved class of noncoding RNA that control many biological processes by sequence-specific inhibition of gene expression. Although a large number of miRNAs have been identified from plants to mammals, it remains no experimental proof whether schistosome exist miRNAs.
Methodology and Results
We have identified novel miRNAs from Schistosoma japonicum by cloning and sequencing a small (18–26 nt) RNA cDNA library from the adult worms. Five novel miRNAs were identified from 227 cloned RNA sequences and verified by Northern blot. Alignments of the miRNAs with corresponding family members indicated that four of them belong to a metazoan miRNA family: let-7, miR-71, bantam and miR-125. The fifth potentially new (non conserved) miRNA appears to belong to a previously undescribed family in the genus Schistosome. The novel miRNAs were designated as sja-let-7, sja-miR-71, sja-bantam, sja-miR-125 and sja-miR-new1, respectively. Expression of sja-let-7, sja-miR-71 and sja-bantam were analyzed in six stages of the life cycle, i.e. egg, miracidium, sporocyst, cercaria, schistosomulum, and adult worm, by a modified stem-loop reverse transcribed polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method developed in our laboratory. The expression patterns of these miRNAs were highly stage-specific. In particular, sja-miR-71 and sja-bantam expression reach their peaks in the cercaria stage and then drop quickly to the nadirs in the schistosomulum stage, following penetration of cercaria into a mammalian host.
Conclusions
Authentic miRNAs were identified for the first time in S. japonicum, including a new schistosome family member. The different expression patterns of the novel miRNAs over the life stages of S. japonicum suggest that they may mediate important roles in Schistosome growth and development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004034
PMCID: PMC2603315  PMID: 19107204
23.  Identification of miRNAs and their target genes in developing soybean seeds by deep sequencing 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:5.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by mediating gene silencing at transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels in higher plants. miRNAs and related target genes have been widely studied in model plants such as Arabidopsis and rice; however, the number of identified miRNAs in soybean (Glycine max) is limited, and global identification of the related miRNA targets has not been reported in previous research.
Results
In our study, a small RNA library and a degradome library were constructed from developing soybean seeds for deep sequencing. We identified 26 new miRNAs in soybean by bioinformatic analysis and further confirmed their expression by stem-loop RT-PCR. The miRNA star sequences of 38 known miRNAs and 8 new miRNAs were also discovered, providing additional evidence for the existence of miRNAs. Through degradome sequencing, 145 and 25 genes were identified as targets of annotated miRNAs and new miRNAs, respectively. GO analysis indicated that many of the identified miRNA targets may function in soybean seed development. Additionally, a soybean homolog of Arabidopsis SUPPRESSOR OF GENE SLIENCING 3 (AtSGS3) was detected as a target of the newly identified miRNA Soy_25, suggesting the presence of feedback control of miRNA biogenesis.
Conclusions
We have identified large numbers of miRNAs and their related target genes through deep sequencing of a small RNA library and a degradome library. Our study provides more information about the regulatory network of miRNAs in soybean and advances our understanding of miRNA functions during seed development.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-5
PMCID: PMC3023735  PMID: 21219599
24.  High-throughput sequencing identification of novel and conserved miRNAs in the Brassica oleracea leaves 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:801.
Background
Plant microRNAs are short (~21 nt) non-coding molecules that regulate gene expression by targeting the mRNA cleavage or protein translation inhibition. In this manner, they play many important roles in the cells of living organisms. One of the plant species in which the entire set of miRNAs has not been yet completely identified is Brassica oleracea var. capitata (cabbage). For this reason and for the economic and nutritional importance of this food crop, high-throughput small RNAs sequencing has been performed to discover the novel and conserved miRNAs in mature cabbage leaves.
Results
In this study, raw reads generated from three small RNA libraries were bioinformatically processed and further analyzed to select sequences homologous to known B. oleracea and other plant miRNAs. As a result of this analysis, 261 conserved miRNAs (belonging to 62 families) have been discovered. MIR169, MIR167 and MIR166 were the largest miRNA families, while the highest abundance molecules were miR167, miR166, miR168c and miR157a. Among the generated sequencing reads, miRNAs* were also found, such as the miR162c*, miR160a* and miR157a*. The unannotated tags were used in the prediction and evaluation of novel miRNAs, which resulted in the 26 potential miRNAs proposal. The expressions of 13 selected miRNAs were analyzed by northern blot hybridization. The target prediction and annotation for identified miRNAs were performed, according to which discovered molecules may target mRNAs encoding several potential proteins – e.g., transcription factors, polypeptides that regulate hormone stimuli and abiotic stress response, and molecules participating in transport and cell communication. Additionally, KEGG maps analysis suggested that the miRNAs in cabbage are involved in important processing pathways, including glycolysis, glycerolipid metabolism, flavonoid biosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation.
Conclusions
Conclusively, for the first time, the large set of miRNAs was identified in mature cabbage leaves. Potential targets designation for these miRNAs may suggest their essential role in many plants primary biological processes. Presented study not only supplements the knowledge about B. oleracea miRNAs, but additionally it may be used in other research concerning the improvement of the cabbage cultivation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-801
PMCID: PMC3840582  PMID: 24245539
miRNA; Brassica oleracea; Cabbage; Target gene; High-throughput sequencing
25.  Genome-wide characterization of microRNA in foxtail millet (Setaria italica) 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:212.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of short non-coding, endogenous RNAs that play key roles in many biological processes in both animals and plants. Although many miRNAs have been identified in a large number of organisms, the miRNAs in foxtail millet (Setaria italica) have, until now, been poorly understood.
Results
In this study, two replicate small RNA libraries from foxtail millet shoots were sequenced, and 40 million reads representing over 10 million unique sequences were generated. We identified 43 known miRNAs, 172 novel miRNAs and 2 mirtron precursor candidates in foxtail millet. Some miRNA*s of the known and novel miRNAs were detected as well. Further, eight novel miRNAs were validated by stem-loop RT-PCR. Potential targets of the foxtail millet miRNAs were predicted based on our strict criteria. Of the predicted target genes, 79% (351) had functional annotations in InterPro and GO analyses, indicating the targets of the miRNAs were involved in a wide range of regulatory functions and some specific biological processes. A total of 69 pairs of syntenic miRNA precursors that were conserved between foxtail millet and sorghum were found. Additionally, stem-loop RT-PCR was conducted to confirm the tissue-specific expression of some miRNAs in the four tissues identified by deep-sequencing.
Conclusions
We predicted, for the first time, 215 miRNAs and 447 miRNA targets in foxtail millet at a genome-wide level. The precursors, expression levels, miRNA* sequences, target functions, conservation, and evolution of miRNAs we identified were investigated. Some of the novel foxtail millet miRNAs and miRNA targets were validated experimentally.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-212
PMCID: PMC3878754  PMID: 24330712
miRNA; Foxtail millet; Expression pattern; Mirtron; miRNA*; Targets; Synteny

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