Small RNA and degradome profiling reveals a role for miRNAs and their targets in the developing fibers of Gossypium barbadense

Nian Liu, Lili Tu, Wenxin Tang, Wenhui Gao, Keith Lindsey, Xianlong Zhang
Plant Journal 2014, 80 (2): 331-44
microRNAs (miRNAs) are 20-24 nucleotide non-coding small RNAs that play important roles in plant development. The stages of cotton fiber development include initiation, elongation, secondary wall thickening (SWT) and maturation. We constructed seven fiber RNA libraries representing the initiation, elongation and SWT stages. In total, 47 conserved miRNA families and seven candidate miRNAs were profiled using small RNA sequencing. Northern blotting and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses revealed the dynamic expression of miRNAs during fiber development. In addition, 140 targets of 30 conserved miRNAs and 38 targets of five candidate miRNAs were identified through degradome sequencing. Analysis of correlated expression between miRNAs and their targets demonstrated that specific miRNAs suppressed the expression of transcription factors, SBP and MYB, a leucine-rich receptor-like protein kinase, a pectate lyase, α-tubulin, a UDP-glucuronic acid decarboxylase and cytochrome C oxidase subunit 1 to affect fiber development. Histochemical analyses detected the biological activity of miRNA156/157 in ovule and fiber development. Suppressing miRNA156/157 function resulted in the reduction of mature fiber length, illustrating that miRNA156/157 plays an essential role in fiber elongation.

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