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Integrated analysis of miRNAs and their targets reveals that miR319c/TCP2 regulates apical bud burst in tea plant (Camellia sinensis)

  • Shengrui Liu
  • Xiaozeng Mi
  • Ran Zhang
  • Yanlin An
  • Qiying Zhou
  • Tianyuan Yang
  • Xiaobo Xia
  • Rui Guo
  • Xuewen Wang
  • Chaoling WeiEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

The roles of microRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation were highlighted in the bud dormancy–activity cycle, implying that certain differentially expressed miRNAs play crucial roles in apical bud burst, such as csn-miR319c/TCP2.


microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression by targeting mRNA transcripts for cleavage or directing translational inhibition. To investigate whether miRNAs regulate bud dormancy–activation transition in tea plant, which largely affects the yield and price of tea products and adaptability of tea trees, we constructed small RNA libraries from three different periods of bud dormancy–burst transition. Through sequencing analysis, 262 conserved and 83 novel miRNAs were identified, including 118 differentially expressed miRNAs. Quantitative RT-PCR results for randomly selected miRNAs exhibited that our comprehensive analysis is highly reliable and accurate. The content of caffeine increased continuously from the endodormancy bud to flushing bud, and differentially expressed miRNAs coupling with their targets associated with bud burst were identified. Remarkably, csn-miR319c was downregulated significantly from the quiescent bud to burst bud, while its target gene CsnTCP2 (TEOSINTE BRANCHED/CYCLOIDEA/PROLIFERATING CELL FACTOR 2) displayed opposite expression patterns. Co-transformation experiment in tobacco demonstrated that csn-miR319c can significantly suppress the functions of CsnTCP2. This study on miRNAs and the recognition of target genes could provide new insights into the molecular mechanism of the bud dormancy–activation transition in tea plant.


Bud dormancy Bud burst Caffeine biosynthesis miRNAs Phytohormones Tea plant 



Auxin response factor




Dormant/opened/swollen apical bud







This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31800585), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017M621991), the Anhui Provincial Natural Science Foundation (1808085QC92) and the Natural Science Foundation of Anhui Provincial Department of Education (KJ2018A0131). We appreciate the anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

425_2019_3207_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Summary of sRNA sequencing analysis.
425_2019_3207_MOESM2_ESM.docx (16 kb)
The primer sequences used in this study.
425_2019_3207_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (37 kb)
The identified conserved and novel miRNAs in the three libraries.
425_2019_3207_MOESM4_ESM.xlsx (19 kb)
Identification of differentially expressed miRNAs in the three libraries.
425_2019_3207_MOESM5_ESM.xlsx (858 kb)
Identified miRNAs and their putative target genes.
425_2019_3207_MOESM6_ESM.xlsx (14 kb)
GO annotation of differentially expressed miRNAs targets based on three comparisons.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Tea Plant Biology and UtilizationAnhui Agricultural UniversityHefeiChina
  2. 2.Tea Research InstitutionAnhui Academy of Agricultural SciencesHuangshangChina
  3. 3.Henan Key Laboratory of Tea Plant BiologyXinyang Normal UniversityXinyangChina
  4. 4.Department of GeneticsUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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