, Volume 230, Issue 4, pp 671-685,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Identification and characterization of 27 conserved microRNAs in citrus

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-protein-coding small RNAs. Considering the conservation of many miRNA genes in different plant genomes, the identification of miRNAs from non-model organisms is both practicable and instrumental in addressing miRNA-guided gene regulation. Citrus is an important staple fruit tree, and publicly available expressed sequence tag (EST) database for citrus are increasing. However, until now, little has been known about miRNA in citrus. In this study, 27 known miRNAs from Arabidopsis were searched against citrus EST databases for miRNA precursors, of which 13 searched precursor sequences could form fold-back structures similar with those of Arabidopsis. The ubiquitous expression of those 13 citrus microRNAs and other 13 potential citrus miRNAs could be detected in citrus leaf, young shoot, flower, fruit and root by northern blotting, and some of them showed differential expression in different tissues. Based on the fact that miRNAs exhibit perfect or nearly perfect complementarity with their target sequences, a total of 41 potential targets were identified for 15 citrus miRNAs. The majority of the targets are transcription factors that play important roles in citrus development, including leaf, shoot, and root development. Additionally, some other target genes appear to play roles in diverse physiological processes. Four target genes have been experimentally verified by detection of the miRNA-mediated mRNA cleavage in Poncirus trifoliate. Overall, this study in the identification and characterization of miRNAs in citrus can initiate further study on citrus miRNA regulation mechanisms, and it can help us to know more about the important roles of miRNAs in citrus.