Gene silencing is an important tool in the study of gene function. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) and hairpin RNA interference (hpRNAi), both of which rely on small interfering RNAs, together with artificial microRNAs (amiRNA), are amongst the most popular methods for reduction of gene activity in plants. However, all three approaches have limitations. Here, we introduce miRNA-induced gene silencing (MIGS). This method exploits a special 22-nucleotide miRNA of Arabidopsis thaliana, miR173, which can trigger production of another class of small RNAs called trans-acting small interfering RNAs (tasiRNAs). We show that fusion of gene fragments to an upstream miR173 target site is sufficient for effective silencing of the corresponding endogenous gene. MIGS can be reliably used for the knockdown of a single gene or of multiple unrelated genes. In addition, we show that MIGS can be applied to other species by co-expression of miR173.
© 2011 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.