Genome-wide Medicago truncatula small RNA analysis revealed novel microRNAs and isoforms differentially regulated in roots and nodules

Plant Cell. 2009 Sep;21(9):2780-96. doi: 10.1105/tpc.109.068130. Epub 2009 Sep 18.


Posttranscriptional regulation of a variety of mRNAs by small 21- to 24-nucleotide RNAs, notably the microRNAs (miRNAs), is emerging as a novel developmental mechanism. In legumes like the model Medicago truncatula, roots are able to develop a de novo meristem through the symbiotic interaction with nitrogen-fixing rhizobia. We used deep sequencing of small RNAs from root apexes and nodules of M. truncatula to identify 100 novel candidate miRNAs encoded by 265 hairpin precursors. New atypical precursor classes producing only specific 21- and 24-nucleotide small RNAs were found. Statistical analysis on sequencing reads abundance revealed specific miRNA isoforms in a same family showing contrasting expression patterns between nodules and root apexes. The differentially expressed conserved and nonconserved miRNAs may target a large variety of mRNAs. In root nodules, which show diverse cell types ranging from a persistent meristem to a fully differentiated central region, we discovered miRNAs spatially enriched in nodule meristematic tissues, vascular bundles, and bacterial infection zones using in situ hybridization. Spatial regulation of miRNAs may determine specialization of regulatory RNA networks in plant differentiation processes, such as root nodule formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Medicago truncatula / genetics*
  • Meristem / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Plant / genetics*
  • Root Nodules, Plant / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Plant

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE15438
  • GEO/GSM387472
  • GEO/GSM387473
  • GEO/GSM387474