Dicer-like 5 deficiency confers temperature-sensitive male sterility in maize

Nat Commun. 2020 Jun 9;11(1):2912. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16634-6.


Small RNAs play important roles during plant development by regulating transcript levels of target mRNAs, maintaining genome integrity, and reinforcing DNA methylation. Dicer-like 5 (Dcl5) is proposed to be responsible for precise slicing in many monocots to generate diverse 24-nt phased, secondary small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs), which are exceptionally abundant in meiotic anthers of diverse flowering plants. The importance and functions of these phasiRNAs remain unclear. Here, we characterized several mutants of dcl5, including alleles generated by the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 system and a transposon-disrupted allele. We report that dcl5 mutants have few or no 24-nt phasiRNAs, develop short anthers with defective tapetal cells, and exhibit temperature-sensitive male fertility. We propose that DCL5 and 24-nt phasiRNAs are critical for fertility under growth regimes for optimal yield.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Gene Editing
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Mutagenesis
  • Mutation
  • Plant Infertility / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / physiology*
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Temperature
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Plant
  • RNA, Small Interfering