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Conserved Cu-MicroRNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana Function in Copper Economy under Deficiency

Biology Department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1878, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2019, 8(6), 141;
Received: 1 May 2019 / Revised: 23 May 2019 / Accepted: 24 May 2019 / Published: 29 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of MicroRNAs in Plants)
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Copper (Cu) is a micronutrient for plants. Three small RNAs, which are up-regulated by Cu deficiency and target transcripts for Cu proteins, are among the most conserved microRNAs in plants. It was hypothesized that these Cu-microRNAs help save Cu for the most essential Cu-proteins under deficiency. Testing this hypothesis has been a challenge due to the redundancy of the Cu microRNAs and the properties of the regulatory circuits that control Cu homeostasis. In order to investigate the role of Cu-microRNAs in Cu homeostasis during vegetative growth, we used a tandem target mimicry strategy to simultaneously inhibit the function of three conserved Cu-microRNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana. When compared to wild-type, transgenic lines that express the tandem target mimicry construct showed reduced Cu-microRNA accumulation and increased accumulation of transcripts that encode Cu proteins. As a result, these mimicry lines showed impaired photosynthesis and growth compared to wild type on low Cu, which could be ascribed to a defect in accumulation of plastocyanin, a Cu-containing photosynthetic electron carrier, which is itself not a Cu-microRNA target. These data provide experimental support for a Cu economy model where the Cu-microRNAs together function to allow maturation of essential Cu proteins under impending deficiency. View Full-Text
Keywords: plastocyanin; photosynthesis; copper deficiency; Cu-microRNA; copper protein; target mimicry plastocyanin; photosynthesis; copper deficiency; Cu-microRNA; copper protein; target mimicry

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Shahbaz, M.; Pilon, M. Conserved Cu-MicroRNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana Function in Copper Economy under Deficiency. Plants 2019, 8, 141.

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