Discovery of a novel abiotic stress adaptation mechanism in plants

August 1, 2017

Antisense RNAs promote the degradation of sense RNAs under abiotic stress conditions

As part of the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, MEXT, a joint research team from RIKEN CSRS, Kyoto University and the National Institute for Basic Biology has discovered a novel antisense RNAmediated abiotic stress adaptation mechanism in plants.

While abiotic stress-induced transcriptional regulation of protein-coding genes has been well understood, the functions of long non-coding RNAs and the mechanisms of post-transcription gene regulation in abiotic stress adaptation are not yet well understood.

When researchers placed Arabidopsis plants in an abiotic stress environment, it became clear that long non-coding antisense RNAs for more than 1,000 genes were synthesized by RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RDR) 1/2/6. These antisense RNAs are mostly generated from the degradation products of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) as a template to generate double-stranded RNAs and promote RNA degradation, suggesting that the antisense RNAs function in a novel abiotic stress response mechanism different from the known endogenous small RNA pathways.

Further research into this topic should lead to the elucidation of gene expression control mechanisms in abiotic stress adaptation, and the knowledge will be utilized for the production of stress-tolerant crops.

Original article
Plant Physiology doi:10.1104/pp.17.00787
A. Matsui, K. Iida, M. Tanaka, K. Yamaguchi, K. Mizuhashi, J.-M. Kim, S. Takahashi, N. Kobayashi, S. Shigenobu, K. Shinozaki, M. Seki,
"Novel stress-inducible antisense RNAs of protein-coding loci are synthesized by Arabidopsis RDRs".
Motoaki Seki; Team Leader
Akihiro Matsui; Research Scientist
Plant Genomic Network Research Team