Cis-Natural Antisense Transcripts (cis-NATs), which overlap protein coding genes and are transcribed from the opposite DNA strand, constitute an important group of noncoding RNAs. Whereas several examples of cis-NATs regulating the expression of their cognate sense gene are known, most cis-NATs function by altering the steady-state level or structure of mRNA via changes in transcription, mRNA stability, or splicing, and very few cases involve the regulation of sense mRNA translation. This study was designed to systematically search for cis-NATs influencing cognate sense mRNA translation in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Establishment of a pipeline relying on sequencing of total polyA+ and polysomal RNA from Arabidopsis grown under various conditions (i.e. nutrient deprivation and phytohormone treatments) allowed the identification of 14 cis-NATs whose expression correlated either positively or negatively with cognate sense mRNA translation. With use of a combination of cis-NAT stable over-expression in transgenic plants and transient expression in protoplasts, the impact of cis-NAT expression on mRNA translation was confirmed for 4 out of 5 tested cis-NAT:sense mRNA pairs. These results expand the number of cis-NATs known to regulate cognate sense mRNA translation and provide a foundation for future studies of their mode of action. Moreover, this study highlights the role of this class of noncoding RNAs in translation regulation.
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