DEAD-BOX RNA HELICASE 27 regulates microRNA biogenesis, zygote division, and stem cell homeostasis

Plant Cell. 2021 Mar 22;33(1):66-84. doi: 10.1093/plcell/koaa001.


After double fertilization, zygotic embryogenesis initiates a new life cycle, and stem cell homeostasis in the shoot apical meristem (SAM) and root apical meristem (RAM) allows plants to produce new tissues and organs continuously. Here, we report that mutations in DEAD-BOX RNA HELICASE 27 (RH27) affect zygote division and stem cell homeostasis in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). The strong mutant allele rh27-1 caused a zygote-lethal phenotype, while the weak mutant allele rh27-2 led to minor defects in embryogenesis and severely compromised stem cell homeostasis in the SAM and RAM. RH27 is expressed in embryos from the zygote stage, and in both the SAM and RAM, and RH27 is a nucleus-localized protein. The expression levels of genes related to stem cell homeostasis were elevated in rh27-2 plants, alongside down-regulation of their regulatory microRNAs (miRNAs). Further analyses of rh27-2 plants revealed reduced levels of a large subset of miRNAs and their pri-miRNAs in shoot apices and root tips. In addition, biochemical studies showed that RH27 associates with pri-miRNAs and interacts with miRNA-biogenesis components, including DAWDLE, HYPONASTIC LEAVES 1, and SERRATE. Therefore, we propose that RH27 is a component of the microprocessor complex and is critical for zygote division and stem cell homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Embryonic Development / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Zygote / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • MicroRNAs