Spatio-temporal accumulation of microRNAs is highly coordinated in developing plant tissues

Plant J. 2006 Jul;47(1):140-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2006.02766.x.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an abundant class of small, endogenous non-protein-coding RNAs, approximately 21 nucleotides in length, that modulate the expression of animal and plant target genes at the post-transcriptional level. Recent work has shown that miRNA-based gene regulation plays a crucial role in pathways involved in plant growth and development. However, knowledge about the timing and spatial regulation of plant miRNA expression is still limited. Here we used in situ analysis to demonstrate that miRNAs accumulate spatially and temporally in a highly restricted manner in Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana. The presence of the seven investigated miRNAs was characteristic of the developing organs, implying a role in cell-fate establishment, differentiation and cell-cycle progression. Spatial analyses revealed that six of the studied miRNAs were present in vascular bundles, suggesting that mobile miRNAs in the phloem could contribute to the coordination of organogenesis and development. The obvious absence of miR167 in vascular bundles represented an exception to this observation, implying an active process in regulating the presence of miRNAs in the vascular system. Taken together, our results imply that the spatially and temporally organized accumulation of miRNAs plays a pivotal role in fine-tuning of target gene expression in plant development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Flowers / growth & development
  • Flowers / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • MicroRNAs / physiology
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • RNA Probes
  • Tobacco / growth & development*
  • Tobacco / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • RNA Probes