Regulatory small RNAs in plants
The discovery of microRNAs in the last decade altered the paradigm that protein coding genes are the only significant components for the regulation of gene networks. Within a short period of time small RNA systems within regulatory networks of eukaryotic cells have been uncovered that will ultimately change the way we infer gene regulation networks from transcriptional profiling data. Small RNAs are involved in the regulation of global activities of genic regions via chromatin states, as inhibitors of’ selfish’ sequences (transposons, retroviruses), in establishment or maintenance of tissue/organ identity, and as modulators of the activity of transcription factor as well as ‘house keeping’ genes. With this chapter we provide an overview of the central aspects of small RNA function in plants and the features that distinguish the different small RNAs. We furthermore highlight the use of computational prediction methods for identification of plant miRNAs/precursors and their targets and provide examples for the experimental validation of small RNA candidates that could represent trans-regulators of downstream genes. Lastly, the emerging concepts of small RNAs as modulators of gene expression constituting systems networks within different cells in a multicellular organism are discussed.
KeywordsSmall RNAs miRNA Gene miRNA Sequence Target Transcript miRNA Precursor
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