An artificial miRNA system reveals that relative contribution of translational inhibition to miRNA-mediated regulation depends on environmental and developmental factors in Arabidopsis thaliana

PLoS One. 2018 Feb 16;13(2):e0192984. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192984. eCollection 2018.


Development and fitness of any organism rely on properly controlled gene expression. This is especially true for plants, as their development is determined by both internal and external cues. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are embedded in the genetic cascades that integrate and translate those cues into developmental programs. miRNAs negatively regulate their target genes mainly post-transcriptionally through two co-existing mechanisms; mRNA cleavage and translational inhibition. Despite our increasing knowledge about the genetic and biochemical processes involved in those concurrent mechanisms, little is known about their relative contributions to the overall miRNA-mediated regulation. Here we show that co-existence of cleavage and translational inhibition is dependent on growth temperature and developmental stage. We found that efficiency of an artificial miRNA-mediated (amiRNA) gene silencing declines with age during vegetative development in a temperature-dependent manner. That decline is mainly due to a reduction on the contribution from translational inhibition. Both, temperature and developmental stage were also found to affect mature amiRNA accumulation and the expression patterns of the core players involved in miRNA biogenesis and action. Therefore, that suggests that each miRNA family specifically regulates their respective targets, while temperature and growth might influence the performance of miRNA-dependent regulation in a more general way.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Environment
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Gene Silencing*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Plant Development
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Plant


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Plant

Grant support

Work at the Max Planck Institute in the Department of Molecular Biology was supported by the Max Planck Society and DFG SFB1101. I.R.-S. is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (BFU2014-58361-JIN, RYC-2015-19154) and through the "Severo Ochoa Programme for Centres of Excellence in R&D" 2016-2019 (SEV-2015-0533) and the CERCA programme from the Generalitat de Catalunya.