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1.  On the complexity of miRNA-mediated regulation in plants: novel insights into the genomic organization of plant miRNAs 
Biology Direct  2012;7:15.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous small non-coding RNAs of about 20–24 nt, known to play key roles in post-transcriptional gene regulation, that can be coded either by intergenic or intragenic loci. Intragenic (exonic and intronic) miRNAs can exert a role in the transcriptional regulation and RNA processing of their host gene. Moreover, the possibility that the biogenesis of exonic miRNAs could destabilize the corresponding protein-coding transcript and reduce protein synthesis makes their characterization very intriguing and suggests a possible novel mechanism of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression.
This work was designed to carry out the computational identification of putative exonic miRNAs in 30 plant species and the analysis of possible mechanisms involved in their regulation.
The results obtained represent a useful starting point for future studies on the complex networks involved in microRNA-mediated gene regulation in plants.
doi:10.1186/1745-6150-7-15
PMCID: PMC3464803  PMID: 22569316
Gene regulation; Exonic miRNA; miRNA self regulation; Plants
2.  A Survey of MicroRNA Length Variants Contributing to miRNome Complexity in Peach (Prunus Persica L.) 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA molecules produced from hairpin structures and involved in gene expression regulation with major roles in plant development and stress response. Although each annotated miRNA in miRBase (www.mirbase.org) is a single defined sequence with no further details on possible variable sequence length, isomiRs – namely the population of variants of miRNAs coming from the same precursors – have been identified in several species and could represent a way of broadening the regulatory network of the cell. Next-gen-based sequencing makes it possible to comprehensively and accurately assess the entire miRNA repertoire including isomiRs. The aim of this work was to survey the complexity of the peach miRNome by carrying out Illumina high-throughput sequencing of miRNAs in three replicates of five biological samples arising from a set of different peach organs and/or phenological stages. Three hundred-ninety-two isomiRs (miRNA and miRNA*-related) corresponding to 26 putative miRNA coding loci, have been highlighted by mirDeep-P and analyzed. The presence of the same isomiRs in different biological replicates of a sample and in different tissues demonstrates that the generation of most of the detected isomiRs is not random. The degree of mature sequence heterogeneity is very different for each individual locus. Results obtained in the present work can thus contribute to a deeper view of the miRNome complexity and to better explore the mechanism of action of these tiny regulators.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2012.00165
PMCID: PMC3405489  PMID: 22855688
microRNA; isomiRs; next generation sequencing
3.  First Survey of the Wheat Chromosome 5A Composition through a Next Generation Sequencing Approach 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26421.
Wheat is one of the world's most important crops and is characterized by a large polyploid genome. One way to reduce genome complexity is to isolate single chromosomes using flow cytometry. Low coverage DNA sequencing can provide a snapshot of individual chromosomes, allowing a fast characterization of their main features and comparison with other genomes. We used massively parallel 454 pyrosequencing to obtain a 2x coverage of wheat chromosome 5A. The resulting sequence assembly was used to identify TEs, genes and miRNAs, as well as to infer a virtual gene order based on the synteny with other grass genomes. Repetitive elements account for more than 75% of the genome. Gene content was estimated considering non-redundant reads showing at least one match to ESTs or proteins. The results indicate that the coding fraction represents 1.08% and 1.3% of the short and long arm respectively, projecting the number of genes of the whole chromosome to approximately 5,000. 195 candidate miRNA precursors belonging to 16 miRNA families were identified. The 5A genes were used to search for syntenic relationships between grass genomes. The short arm is closely related to Brachypodium chromosome 4, sorghum chromosome 8 and rice chromosome 12; the long arm to regions of Brachypodium chromosomes 4 and 1, sorghum chromosomes 1 and 2 and rice chromosomes 9 and 3. From these similarities it was possible to infer the virtual gene order of 392 (5AS) and 1,480 (5AL) genes of chromosome 5A, which was compared to, and found to be largely congruent with the available physical map of this chromosome.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026421
PMCID: PMC3196578  PMID: 22028874
4.  A computational-based update on microRNAs and their targets in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:595.
Background
Many plant species have been investigated in the last years for the identification and characterization of the corresponding miRNAs, nevertheless extensive studies are not yet available on barley (at the time of this writing). To extend and to update information on miRNAs and their targets in barley and to identify candidate polymorphisms at miRNA target sites, the features of previously known plant miRNAs have been used to systematically search for barley miRNA homologues and targets in the publicly available ESTs database. Matching sequences have then been related to Unigene clusters on which most of this study was based.
Results
One hundred-fifty-six microRNA mature sequences belonging to 50 miRNA families have been found to significantly match at least one EST sequence in barley. As expected on the basis of phylogenetic relations, miRNAs putatively orthologous to those of Triticum are significantly over-represented inside the set of identified barley microRNA mature sequences. Many previously known and several putatively new miRNA/target pairs have been identified. When the predicted microRNA targets were grouped into functional categories, biological processes previously known to be regulated by miRNAs, such as development and response to biotic and abiotic stress, have been highlighted and most of the target molecular functions were related to transcription regulation. Candidate microRNA coding genes have been reported and genetic variation (SNPs/indels) both in functional regions of putative miRNAs (mature sequence) and at miRNA target sites has been found.
Conclusions
This study has provided an update of the information on barley miRNAs and their targets representing a foundation for future studies. Many of previously known plant microRNAs have homologues in barley with expected important roles during development, nutrient deprivation, biotic and abiotic stress response and other important physiological processes. Putative polymorphisms at miRNA target sites have been identified and they can represent an interesting source for the identification of functional genetic variability.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-595
PMCID: PMC3091740  PMID: 20969764
5.  Genetic variants of HvCbf14 are statistically associated with frost tolerance in a European germplasm collection of Hordeum vulgare 
Two quantitative trait loci (Fr-H1 and Fr-H2) for frost tolerance (FT) have been discovered on the long arm of chromosome 5H in barley. Two tightly linked groups of CBF genes, known to play a key role in the FT regulatory network in A. thaliana, have been found to co-segregate with Fr-H2. Here, we investigate the allelic variations of four barley CBF genes (HvCbf3, HvCbf6, HvCbf9 and HvCbf14) in a panel of European cultivars, landraces and H. spontaneum accessions. In the cultivars a reduction of nucleotide and haplotype diversities in CBFs compared with the landraces and the wild ancestor H. spontaneum, was evident. In particular, in cultivars the loss of HvCbf9 genetic variants was higher compared to other sequences. In order to verify if the pattern of CBF genetic variants correlated with the level of FT, an association procedure was adopted. The pairwise analysis of linkage disequilibrium (LD) among the genetic variants in four CBF genes was computed to evaluate the resolution of the association procedure. The pairwise plotting revealed a low level of LD in cultivated varieties, despite the tight physical linkage of CBF genes analysed. A structured association procedure based on a general liner model was implemented, including the variants in CBFs, of Vrn-H1, and of two reference genes not involved in FT (α-Amy1 and Gapdh) and considering the phenotypic data for FT. Association analysis recovered two nucleotide variants of HvCbf14 and one nucleotide variant of Vrn-H1 as statistically associated to FT.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-009-1138-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00122-009-1138-7
PMCID: PMC2765646  PMID: 19756475

Results 1-5 (5)