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Open AccessArticle

Transcriptomic Analysis of Long Non-Coding RNAs and Coding Genes Uncovers a Complex Regulatory Network That Is Involved in Maize Seed Development

School of Life Sciences, Anhui Agricultural University, Hefei 230000, China
Biotechnology Research Institute/The National Key Facility for Crop Gene Resources and Genetic Improvement, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Bin Yu
Genes 2017, 8(10), 274;
Received: 4 September 2017 / Revised: 3 October 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 17 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
PDF [6750 KB, uploaded 26 October 2017]


Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been reported to be involved in the development of maize plant. However, few focused on seed development of maize. Here, we identified 753 lncRNA candidates in maize genome from six seed samples. Similar to the mRNAs, lncRNAs showed tissue developmental stage specific and differential expression, indicating their putative role in seed development. Increasing evidence shows that crosstalk among RNAs mediated by shared microRNAs (miRNAs) represents a novel layer of gene regulation, which plays important roles in plant development. Functional roles and regulatory mechanisms of lncRNAs as competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNA) in plants, particularly in maize seed development, are unclear. We combined analyses of consistently altered 17 lncRNAs, 840 mRNAs and known miRNA to genome-wide investigate potential lncRNA-mediated ceRNA based on “ceRNA hypothesis”. The results uncovered seven novel lncRNAs as potential functional ceRNAs. Functional analyses based on their competitive coding-gene partners by Gene Ontology (GO) and KEGG biological pathway demonstrated that combined effects of multiple ceRNAs can have major impacts on general developmental and metabolic processes in maize seed. These findings provided a useful platform for uncovering novel mechanisms of maize seed development and may provide opportunities for the functional characterization of individual lncRNA in future studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: maize; seed development; lncRNA; mRNA; co-expression; ceRNA maize; seed development; lncRNA; mRNA; co-expression; ceRNA

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Zhu, M.; Zhang, M.; Xing, L.; Li, W.; Jiang, H.; Wang, L.; Xu, M. Transcriptomic Analysis of Long Non-Coding RNAs and Coding Genes Uncovers a Complex Regulatory Network That Is Involved in Maize Seed Development. Genes 2017, 8, 274.

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