Difference in miRNA expression profiles between two cotton cultivars with distinct salt sensitivity

Zujun Yin, Yan Li, Jiwen Yu, Yudong Liu, Chunhe Li, Xiulan Han, Fafu Shen
Molecular Biology Reports 2012, 39 (4): 4961-70
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of endogenous, non-coding small RNAs that play important roles in many developmental processes and stress responses in plants and animals. Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is considered a relatively salt-tolerant non-halophytic plant species. To study the role of miRNAs in salt adaptation, a salt-tolerant cotton cultivar SN-011 and a salt-sensitive cultivar LM-6 were used to detect differentially expressed miRNAs. Using miRNA microarray analysis and a computational approach, 17 cotton miRNAs belonging to eight families were identified. Although they are conserved, 12 of them showed a genotype-specific expression model in both the cultivars. Under salt stress treatment, miR156a/d/e, miR169, miR535a/b and miR827b were dramatically down-regulated in SN-011, while miR167a, miR397a/b and miR399a were up-regulated. Only miR159 was found to be down-regulated in LM-6 under salt stress. To gain insight into their functional significance, 26 target genes were predicted and their functional similarity was further analyzed. Quantitative real-time PCR showed that the expression of seven target genes showed a significant inverse correlation with corresponding miRNAs. These differentially expressed miRNAs can help in further study into the role of transcriptome homeostasis in the adaptation responses of cotton to salt.

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