ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: In plants, expression of ARGONAUTE1 (AGO1), the catalytic subunit of the RNA-Induced Silencing Complex responsible for post-transcriptional gene silencing, is controlled through a feedback loop involving the miR168 microRNA. This complex auto-regulatory loop, composed of miR168-guided AGO1-catalyzed cleavage of AGO1 mRNA and AGO1-mediated stabilization of miR168, was shown to ensure the maintenance of AGO1 homeostasis that is pivotal for the correct functioning of the miRNA pathway. RESULTS: We applied different approaches to studying the genomic organization and the structural and functional evolution of MIR168 homologs in Brassicaeae. A whole genome comparison of Arabidopsis and poplar, phylogenetic footprinting and phylogenetic reconstruction were used to date the duplication events originating MIR168 homologs in these genomes. While orthology was lacking between Arabidopsis and poplar MIR168 genes, we successfully isolated orthologs of both loci present in Arabidopsis (MIR168a and MIR168b) from all the Brassicaceae species analyzed, including the basal species Aethionema grandiflora, thus indicating that (1) independent duplication events took place in Arabidopsis and poplar lineages and (2) the origin of MIR168 paralogs predates both the Brassicaceae radiation and the Arabidopsis alpha polyploidization. Different phylogenetic footprints, corresponding to known functionally relevant regions (transcription starting site and double-stranded structures responsible for microRNA biogenesis and function) or for which functions could be proposed, were found to be highly conserved among MIR168 homologs. Comparative predictions of the identified microRNAs also indicate extreme conservation of secondary structure and thermodynamic stability. CONCLUSION: We used a comparative phylogenetic footprinting approach to identify the structural and functional constraints that shaped MIR168 evolution in Brassicaceae. Although their duplication happened at least 40 million years ago, we found evidence that both MIR168 paralogs have been maintained throughout the evolution of Brassicaceae, most likely functionally as indicated by the extremely high conservation of functionally relevant regions, predicted secondary structure and thermodynamic profile. Interestingly, the expression patterns observed in Arabidopsis indicate that MIR168b underwent partial subfunctionalization as determined by the experimental characterization of its expression pattern provided in this study. We found further evolutionary evidence that pre-miR168 lower stem (the RNA-duplex structure adjacent to the miR-miR* stem) is significantly longer than animal lower stems and probably plays a relevant role in multi-step miR168 biogenesis.
Project description:Arabidopsis ARGONAUTE1 (AGO1) encodes the RNA slicer enzyme of the microRNA (miRNA) pathway and is regulated by miR168-programmed, AGO1-catalyzed mRNA cleavage. Here, we describe two additional regulatory processes required for AGO1 homeostasis: transcriptional coregulation of MIR168 and AGO1 genes, and posttranscriptional stabilization of miR168 by AGO1. Disrupting any of these regulatory processes by using mutations or transgenes disturbs a proper functioning of the miRNA pathway. In contrast, minor perturbation leads to fine-tuned posttranscriptional adjustment of miR168 and AGO1 levels, thereby maintaining a proper balance of other miRNAs, which, together with AGO1, control the mRNA levels of miRNA targets. We suggest that miR168 stabilization occurs at the level of silencing-complex assembly and that modulating the efficiency of assembling miRNA-programmed silencing complexes will also be important in other contexts.
Project description:The analysis of the Arabidopsis genome revealed evidence of three ancient polyploidy events in the evolution of the Brassicaceae, but the exact phylogenetic placement of these events is still not resolved. The most recent event is called the At-alpha (alpha) or 3R, the intermediate event is referred to as the At-beta (beta) or 2R, and the oldest is the At-gamma (gamma) or 1R. It has recently been established that At-gamma is shared with other Rosids, including papaya (Carica), poplar (Populus), and grape (Vitis), whereas data to date suggest that At-alpha is Brassicaceae specific. To address more precisely when the At-alpha and At-beta events occurred and which plant lineages share these paleopolyploidizations, we sequenced and analyzed over 4,700 normalized expressed sequence tag sequences from the Cleomaceae, the sister family to the Brassicaceae. Analysis of these Cleome data with homologous sequences from other Rosid genomes (Arabidopsis, Carica, Gossypium, Populus, and Vitis) yielded three major findings: 1) confirmation of a Cleome-specific paleopolyploidization (Cs-alpha) that is independent of the Brassicaceae At-alpha paleopolyploidization; 2) Cleome and Arabidopsis share the At-beta duplication, which is lacking from papaya within the Brassicales; and 3) rates of molecular evolution are faster for the herbaceous annual taxa Arabidopsis and Cleome than the other predominantly woody perennial Rosid lineages. These findings contribute to our understanding of the dynamics of genome duplication and evolution within one of the most comprehensively surveyed clades of plants, the Rosids, and clarify the complex history of the At-alpha, At-beta, and At-gamma duplications of Arabidopsis.
Project description:Virus infections induce the expression of ARGONAUTE1 (AGO1) mRNA and in parallel enhance the accumulation of miR168 (regulator of AGO1 mRNA). Here, we show that in virus-infected plants the enhanced expression of AGO1 mRNA is not accompanied by increased AGO1 protein accumulation. We also show that the induction of AGO1 mRNA level is a part of the host defence reaction, whereas the induction of miR168, which overlaps spatially with virus-occupied sectors, is mediated mainly by the Tombusvirus p19 RNA-silencing suppressor. The absence of p19 results in the elimination of miR168 induction and accompanied with the enhanced accumulation of AGO1 protein. In transient expression study, p19 mediates the induction of miR168 and the down-regulation of endogenous AGO1 level. P19 is not able to efficiently bind miR168 in virus-infected plants, indicating that this activity is uncoupled from the small RNA-binding capacity of p19. Our results imply that plant viruses can inhibit the translational capacity of AGO1 mRNA by modulating the endogenous miR168 level to alleviate the anti-viral function of AGO1 protein.
Project description:ARGONAUTE 1 (AGO1) slices endogenous messenger RNAs (mRNAs) during both microRNA (miRNA)- and short interfering RNA (siRNA)-guided post-transcriptional silencing. We have previously reported that AGO1 homeostasis is maintained through the repressive action of miR168 on AGO1 mRNA and the stabilizing effect of AGO1 protein on miR168, but siRNA-mediated AGO1 regulation has not been reported. Here, we show that AGO1-derived siRNAs trigger RNA DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE 6 (RDR6)-, SUPPRESSOR OF GENE SILENCING 3 (SGS3)- and SILENCING DEFECTIVE 5 (SDE5)-dependent AGO1 silencing, which also requires DICER-LIKE 2 (DCL2) and DCL4. By varying the efficacy of miR168-guided AGO1 mRNA cleavage, we show that siRNA-mediated AGO1 silencing depends on correct miRNA targeting, pointing to coordinated regulatory actions of the miRNA and siRNA pathways during the maintenance of AGO1 homeostasis. Finally, our results reveal that dcl2, dcl3 and dcl4 mutations similarly affect post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) mediated by a sense transgene and PTGS mediated by inverted repeats, validating the branched pathway model proposed previously.
Project description:Various plant viruses ubiquitously mediate the induction of miR168, resulting in the control of ARGONAUTE 1 (AGO1), which is the pivotal component of the microRNA (miRNA) regulation pathway and can also exhibit antiviral function. Here, we demonstrate that miR168-driven control of AGO1 can persist for a long time in virus-infected plants and can be an important component of symptom development. We also show that infection of RNA viruses belonging to various genera is associated with the transcriptional induction of the MIR168 precursor gene. Moreover, in a transient expression study, we reveal that different unrelated viral suppressors of RNA silencing (VSRs) are responsible for the enhanced accumulation of miR168. The induction of miR168 accumulation is an early function of VSRs and this activity is associated with the control of the endogenous AGO1 protein level. The common ability of unrelated VSRs to induce the miR168 level implies that this activity might be a component of the host defence suppression in plant-virus interactions.
Project description:Self-incompatibility (SI) is a genetic system that prevents self-fertilization in many Angiosperms. Although plants from the Brassicaceae family present an apparently unique SI system that is ancestral to the family, investigations at the S-locus responsible for SI have been mostly limited to two distinct lineages (Brassica and Arabidopsis-Capsella, respectively). Here, we investigated SI in a third deep-branching lineage of Brassicaceae: the tribe Biscutelleae. By coupling sequencing of the SI gene responsible for pollen recognition (SRK) with phenotypic analyses based on controlled pollinations, we identified 20 SRK-like sequences functionally linked to 13 S-haplotypes in 21 individuals of Biscutella neustriaca and 220 seedlings. We found two genetic and phylogenetic features of SI in Biscutelleae that depart from patterns observed in the reference Arabidopsis clade: (1) SRK-like sequences cluster into two main phylogenetic lineages interspersed within the many SRK lineages of Arabidopsis; and (2) some SRK-like sequences are transmitted by linked pairs, suggesting local duplication within the S-locus. Strikingly, these features also were observed in the Brassica clade but probably evolved independently, as the two main SRK clusters in Biscutella are distinct from those in Brassica. In the light of our results and of what has been previously observed in other Brassicaceae, we discuss the ecological and evolutionary implications on SI plant populations of the high diversity and the complex dominance relationships we found at the S-locus in Biscutelleae.
Project description:Lineage-specific duplicated genes likely contribute to the phenotypic divergence in closely related species. However, neither the frequency of duplication events nor the degree of selection pressures immediately after gene duplication is clear in the speciation process. Here, using Illumina DNA-sequencing reads from Arabidopsis halleri, which has multiple closely related species with high-quality genome assemblies (A. thaliana and A. lyrata), we succeeded in generating orthologous gene groups in Brassicaceae. The duplication frequency of retained genes in the Arabidopsis lineage was ?10 times higher than the duplication frequency inferred by comparative genomics of Arabidopsis, poplar, rice and moss (Physcomitrella patens). The difference of duplication frequencies can be explained by a rapid decay of anciently duplicated genes. To examine the degree of selection pressure on genes duplicated in either the A. halleri-lyrata or the A. halleri lineage, we examined positive and purifying selection in the A. halleri-lyrata and A. halleri lineages throughout the ratios of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitution rates (KA/KS). Duplicate genes tended to have a higher proportion of positive selection compared with non-duplicated genes. Interestingly, we found that functional divergence of duplicated genes was accelerated several million years after gene duplication compared with immediately after gene duplication.
Project description:Plant viruses ubiquitously mediate the induction of miR168 trough the activities of viral suppressors of RNA silencing (VSRs) controlling the accumulation of ARGONAUTE1 (AGO1), one of the main components of RNA silencing based host defence system. Here we used a mutant Tombusvirus p19 VSR (p19-3M) disabled in its main suppressor function, small interfering RNA (siRNA) binding, to investigate the biological role of VSR-mediated miR168 induction. Infection with the mutant virus carrying p19-3M VSR resulted in suppressed recovery phenotype despite the presence of free virus specific siRNAs. Analysis of the infected plants revealed that the mutant p19-3M VSR is able to induce miR168 level controlling the accumulation of the antiviral AGO1, and this activity is associated with the enhanced accumulation of viral RNAs. Moreover, saturation of the siRNA-binding capacity of p19 VSR mediated by defective interfering RNAs did not influence the miR168-inducing activity. Our data indicate that p19 VSR possesses two independent silencing suppressor functions, viral siRNA binding and the miR168-mediated AGO1 control, both of which are required to efficiently cope with the RNA-silencing based host defence. This finding suggests that p19 VSR protein evolved independent parallel capacities to block the host defence at multiple levels.
Project description:Environmental control of flowering allows plant reproduction to occur under optimal conditions and facilitates adaptation to different locations. At high latitude, flowering of many plants is controlled by seasonal changes in day length. The photoperiodic flowering pathway confers this response in the Brassicaceae, which colonized temperate latitudes after divergence from the Cleomaceae, their subtropical sister family. The CONSTANS (CO) transcription factor of Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the Brassicaceae, is central to the photoperiodic flowering response and shows characteristic patterns of transcription required for day-length sensing. CO is believed to be widely conserved among flowering plants; however, we show that it arose after gene duplication at the root of the Brassicaceae followed by divergence of transcriptional regulation and protein function. CO has two close homologs, CONSTANS-LIKE1 (COL1) and COL2, which are related to CO by tandem duplication and whole-genome duplication, respectively. The single CO homolog present in the Cleomaceae shows transcriptional and functional features similar to those of COL1 and COL2, suggesting that these were ancestral. We detect cis-regulatory and codon changes characteristic of CO and use transgenic assays to demonstrate their significance in the day-length-dependent activation of the CO target gene FLOWERING LOCUS T. Thus, the function of CO as a potent photoperiodic flowering switch evolved in the Brassicaceae after gene duplication. The origin of CO may have contributed to the range expansion of the Brassicaceae and suggests that in other families CO genes involved in photoperiodic flowering arose by convergent evolution.
Project description:Comparative phylogenetic analyses of the R2R3-MYB transcription factor family revealed that five subgroups were preferentially found in woody species and were totally absent from Brassicaceae and monocots (Soler et al., 2015). Here, we analyzed one of these subgroups (WPS-I) for which no gene had been yet characterized. Most Eucalyptus members of WPS-I are preferentially expressed in the vascular cambium, the secondary meristem responsible for tree radial growth. We focused on EgMYB88, which is the most specifically and highly expressed in vascular tissues, and showed that it behaves as a transcriptional activator in yeast. Then, we functionally characterized EgMYB88 in both transgenic Arabidopsis and poplar plants overexpressing either the native or the dominant repression form (fused to the Ethylene-responsive element binding factor-associated Amphiphilic Repression motif, EAR). The transgenic Arabidopsis lines had no phenotype whereas the poplar lines overexpressing EgMYB88 exhibited a substantial increase in the levels of the flavonoid catechin and of some salicinoid phenolic glycosides (salicortin, salireposide, and tremulacin), in agreement with the increase of the transcript levels of landmark biosynthetic genes. A change in the lignin structure (increase in the syringyl vs. guaiacyl, S/G ratio) was also observed. Poplar lines overexpressing the EgMYB88 dominant repression form did not show a strict opposite phenotype. The level of catechin was reduced, but the levels of the salicinoid phenolic glycosides and the S/G ratio remained unchanged. In addition, they showed a reduction in soluble oligolignols containing sinapyl p-hydroxybenzoate accompanied by a mild reduction of the insoluble lignin content. Altogether, these results suggest that EgMYB88, and more largely members of the WPS-I group, could control in cambium and in the first layers of differentiating xylem the biosynthesis of some phenylpropanoid-derived secondary metabolites including lignin.