Degradation of Fungal MicroRNAs Triggered by Short Tandem Target Mimics Is via the Small-RNA-Degrading Nuclease

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Yulong WangBo Huang

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been recognized as sequence-specific regulators of the genome, transcriptome, and proteome in eukaryotes. However, the functions and working mechanisms of hundreds of fungal miRNA-like (miR-like) RNAs are obscure. Here, we report that a short tandem target mimic (STTM) triggered the degradation of several fungal miR-like RNAs in two different fungal species, Metarhizium robertsii and Aspergillus flavus, and that small-RNA-degrading nucleases (SDNs) were indispensable for such degradation. STTMs were most effective when the fungal polymerase II (Pol II) promoter was used for their expression, while the Pol III promoter was less effective. The length of the STTM spacer, approximately 48 to 96 nucleotides, and the number of miR-like RNA binding sites, from 2 to 4 copies, showed no significant difference in the degradation of miR-like RNAs. STTMs modulated the miR-like RNA expression levels in at least two different fungal species, which further impacted fungal asexual growth and sporulation. Further analysis showed that the degraded miR-like RNAs in STTM mutants led to the upregulation of potential target genes involved in fungal development and conidial production, which result in different phenotypes in t...Continue Reading

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