Ribosome stalling caused by the Argonaute-microRNA-SGS3 complex regulates the production of secondary siRNAs in plants

Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 29;35(13):109300. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109300.


The path of ribosomes on mRNAs can be impeded by various obstacles. One such example is halting of ribosome movement by microRNAs, but the exact mechanism and physiological role remain unclear. Here, we find that ribosome stalling caused by the Argonaute-microRNA-SGS3 complex regulates production of secondary small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in plants. We show that the double-stranded RNA-binding protein SGS3 interacts directly with the 3' end of the microRNA in an Argonaute protein, resulting in ribosome stalling. Importantly, microRNA-mediated ribosome stalling correlates positively with efficient production of secondary siRNAs from target mRNAs. Our results illustrate a role of paused ribosomes in regulation of small RNA function that may have broad biological implications across the plant kingdom.

Keywords: RNA interference; RNA silencing; miRNA; phasiRNA; ribosome; ribosome profiling; siRNA; tasiRNA; translation; translation elongation.