Whole-Genome Doubling Affects Pre-miRNA Expression in Plants

Plants (Basel). 2021 May 18;10(5):1004. doi: 10.3390/plants10051004.


Whole-genome doubling (polyploidy) is common in angiosperms. Several studies have indicated that it is often associated with molecular, physiological, and phenotypic changes. Mounting evidence has pointed out that micro-RNAs (miRNAs) may have an important role in whole-genome doubling. However, an integrative approach that compares miRNA expression in polyploids is still lacking. Here, a re-analysis of already published RNAseq datasets was performed to identify microRNAs' precursors (pre-miRNAs) in diploids (2x) and tetraploids (4x) of five species (Arabidopsis thaliana L., Morus alba L., Brassica rapa L., Isatis indigotica Fort., and Solanum commersonii Dun). We found 3568 pre-miRNAs, three of which (pre-miR414, pre-miR5538, and pre-miR5141) were abundant in all 2x, and were absent/low in their 4x counterparts. They are predicted to target more than one mRNA transcript, many belonging to transcription factors (TFs), DNA repair mechanisms, and related to stress. Sixteen pre-miRNAs were found in common in all 2x and 4x. Among them, pre-miRNA482, pre-miRNA2916, and pre-miRNA167 changed their expression after polyploidization, being induced or repressed in 4x plants. Based on our results, a common ploidy-dependent response was triggered in all species under investigation, which involves DNA repair, ATP-synthesis, terpenoid biosynthesis, and several stress-responsive transcripts. In addition, an ad hoc pre-miRNA expression analysis carried out solely on 2x vs. 4x samples of S. commersonii indicated that ploidy-dependent pre-miRNAs seem to actively regulate the nucleotide metabolism, probably to cope with the increased requirement for DNA building blocks caused by the augmented DNA content. Overall, the results outline the critical role of microRNA-mediated responses following autopolyploidization in plants.

Keywords: RNAseq; Solanum commersonii; autopolyploid; genomic shock; microRNA.