Cloning and characterization of microRNAs from rice

Plant Cell. 2005 May;17(5):1397-411. doi: 10.1105/tpc.105.031682. Epub 2005 Apr 1.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a growing family of small noncoding RNAs that downregulate gene expression in a sequence-specific manner. The identification of the entire set of miRNAs from a model organism is a critical step toward understanding miRNA-guided gene regulation. Rice (Oryza sativa) and Arabidopsis thaliana, two plant model species with fully sequenced genomes, are representatives of monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous flowering plants, respectively. Thus far, experimental identification of miRNAs in plants has been confined to Arabidopsis. Computational analysis based on conservation with known miRNAs from Arabidopsis has predicted 20 families of miRNAs in rice. To identify miRNAs that are difficult to predict in silico or not conserved in Arabidopsis, we generated three cDNA libraries of small RNAs from rice shoot, root, and inflorescence tissues. We identified 35 miRNAs, of which 14 are new, and these define 13 new families. Thirteen of the new miRNAs are not conserved in Arabidopsis. Four of the new miRNAs are conserved in related monocot species but not in Arabidopsis, which suggests that these may have evolved after the divergence of monocots and dicots. The remaining nine new miRNAs appear to be absent in the known sequences of other plant species. Most of the rice miRNAs are expressed ubiquitously in all tissues examined, whereas a few display tissue-specific expression. We predicted 46 genes as targets of the new rice miRNAs: 16 of these predicted targets encode transcription factors, and other target genes appear to play roles in diverse physiological processes. Four target genes have been experimentally verified by detection of miRNA-mediated mRNA cleavage. Our identification of new miRNAs in rice suggests that these miRNAs may have evolved independently in rice or been lost in other species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA, Complementary / analysis
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics*
  • Genome, Plant
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / isolation & purification
  • Oryza / genetics*
  • Oryza / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • DNA, Complementary
  • MicroRNAs
  • Transcription Factors