Gene regulation: ancient microRNA target sequences in plants

Nature. 2004 Apr 1;428(6982):485-6. doi: 10.1038/428485a.


MicroRNAs are an abundant class of small RNAs that are thought to regulate the expression of protein-coding genes in plants and animals. Here we show that the target sequence of two microRNAs, known to regulate genes in the class-III homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) gene family of the flowering plant Arabidopsis, is conserved in homologous sequences from all lineages of land plants, including bryophytes, lycopods, ferns and seed plants. We also find that the messenger RNAs from these genes are cleaved within the same microRNA-binding site in representatives of each land-plant group, as they are in Arabidopsis. Our results indicate not only that microRNAs mediate gene regulation in non-flowering as well as flowering plants, but also that the regulation of this class of plant genes dates back more than 400 million years.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plants / classification
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • MicroRNAs