Upon confrontation with unfavourable conditions, plants invoke a very complex set of biochemical and physiological reactions and alter gene expression patterns to combat the situations. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small non-coding RNA, contribute extensively in regulation of gene expression through translation inhibition or degradation of their target mRNAs during such conditions. Therefore, identification of miRNAs and their targets holds importance in understanding the regulatory networks triggered during stress. Structure and sequence similarity based in silico prediction of miRNAs in Cajanus cajan L. (Pigeonpea) draft genome sequence has been carried out earlier. These annotations also appear in related GenBank genome sequence entries. However, there are no reports available on context dependent miRNA expression and their targets in pigeonpea. Therefore, in the present study we addressed these questions computationally, using pigeonpea EST sequence information. We identified five novel pigeonpea miRNA precursors, their mature forms and targets. Interestingly, only one of these miRNAs (miR169i-3p) was identified earlier in draft genome sequence. We then validated expression of these miRNAs, experimentally. It was also observed that these miRNAs show differential expression patterns in response to Fusarium inoculation indicating their biotic stress responsive nature. Overall these results will help towards better understanding the regulatory network of defense during pigeonpea -pathogen interactions and role of miRNAs in the process.
Gene – Elsevier
Published: May 5, 2018
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