The MicroRNA miR773 Is Involved in the Arabidopsis Immune Response to Fungal Pathogens

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2018 Feb;31(2):249-259. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-05-17-0108-R. Epub 2017 Dec 6.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 21- to 24-nucleotide short noncoding RNAs that trigger gene silencing in eukaryotes. In plants, miRNAs play a crucial role in a wide range of developmental processes and adaptive responses to abiotic and biotic stresses. In this work, we investigated the role of miR773 in modulating resistance to infection by fungal pathogens in Arabidopsis thaliana. Interference with miR773 activity by target mimics (in MIM773 plants) and concomitant upregulation of the miR773 target gene METHYLTRANSFERASE 2 (MET2) increased resistance to infection by necrotrophic (Plectosphaerrella cucumerina) and hemibiotrophic (Fusarium oxysporum, Colletototrichum higginianum) fungal pathogens. By contrast, both MIR773 overexpression and MET2 silencing enhanced susceptibility to pathogen infection. Upon pathogen challenge, MIM773 plants accumulated higher levels of callose and reactive oxygen species than wild-type plants. Stronger induction of defense-gene expression was also observed in MIM773 plants in response to fungal infection. Expression analysis revealed an important reduction in miR773 accumulation in rosette leaves of plants upon elicitor perception and pathogen infection. Taken together, our results show not only that miR773 mediates pathogen-associated molecular pattern-triggered immunity but also demonstrate that suppression of miR773 activity is an effective approach to improve disease resistance in Arabidopsis plants.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology*
  • Fungi / immunology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / immunology
  • Gene Silencing
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Plant Diseases / immunology*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism*


  • MIRN773 microRNA, Arabidopsis
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Plant