Systematic identification of miRNA-regulatory networks unveils their potential roles in sugarcane response to Sorghum mosaic virus infection

BMC Plant Biol. 2022 May 19;22(1):247. doi: 10.1186/s12870-022-03641-6.


Background: Sugarcane mosaic disease (SMD) is a major viral disease of sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) worldwide. Sorghum mosaic virus (SrMV) is the dominant pathogen of SMD in the sugarcane planting areas of China. There is no report on miRNAs and their regulatory networks in sugarcane response to SrMV infection.

Results: In this study, small RNA sequencing (sRNA-seq) of samples from the leaves of SMD-susceptible variety ROC22 and -resistant variety FN39 infected by SrMV was performed. A total of 132 mature miRNAs (55 known miRNAs and 77 novel miRNAs) corresponding to 1,037 target genes were identified. After the SrMV attack, there were 30 differentially expressed miRNAs (17 up-regulated and 13 down-regulated) in FN39 and 19 in ROC22 (16 up-regulated and 3 down-regulated). Besides, there were 18 and 7 variety-specific differentially expressed miRNAs for FN39 and ROC22, respectively. KEGG enrichment analysis showed that the differentially expressed miRNAs targeted genes involved in several disease resistance-related pathways, such as mRNA surveillance, plant pathway interaction, sulfur metabolism, and regulation of autophagy. The reliability of sequencing data, and the expression patterns / regulation relationships between the selected differentially expressed miRNAs and their target genes in ROC22 and FN39 were confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR. A regulatory network diagram of differentially expressed miRNAs and their predicted target genes in sugarcane response to SrMV infection was sketched. In addition, precursor sequences of three candidate differentially expressed novel miRNAs (nov_3741, nov_22650 and nov_40875) were cloned from the ROC22 leaf infected by SrMV. Transient overexpression demonstrated that they could induce the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide and the expression level of hypersensitive response marker genes, salicylic acid-responsive genes and ethylene synthesis-depended genes in Nicotiana benthamiana. It is thus speculated that these three miRNAs may be involved in regulating the early immune response of sugarcane plants following SrMV infection.

Conclusions: This study lays a foundation for revealing the miRNA regulation mechanism in the interaction of sugarcane and SrMV, and also provides a resource for miRNAs and their predicted target genes for SrMV resistance improvement in sugarcane.

Keywords: Regulatory network; Sorghum mosaic virus; Sugarcane; Target gene; miRNA.

MeSH terms

  • Edible Grain / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Mosaic Viruses* / genetics
  • Mosaic Viruses* / metabolism
  • Plant Diseases / genetics
  • Potyvirus*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Saccharum* / metabolism
  • Sorghum* / genetics
  • Sorghum* / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs