Analysis of high iron rice lines reveals new miRNAs that target iron transporters in roots

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Abstract

The present study highlights the molecular regulation of iron transport in soyFER1-overexpressing transgenic rice. Accumulation of iron in three different seed developmental stages, milk, dough, and mature, has been examined. The transgenic seeds of the milk stage showed significant augmentation of iron and zinc levels compared with wild-type seeds, and similar results were observed throughout the dough and mature stages. To investigate the regulation of iron transport, the role of miRNAs was studied in roots of transgenic rice. Sequencing of small RNA libraries revealed 153 known and 41 novel miRNAs in roots. Among them, 59 known and 14 novel miRNAs were found to be significantly expressed. miR166, miR399, and miR408 were identified as playing a vital role in iron uptake in roots of transgenic plants . Most importantly, four putative novel miRNAs, namely miR11, miR26, miR30, and miR31, were found to be down-regulated in roots of transgenic plants. For all these four novel miRNAs, natural resistance-associated macrophage protein 4 (NRAMP4), encoding a metal transporter, was predicted as a target gene. It is hypothesized that the NRAMP4 transporter is activated in roots of transgenic plants due to the lower abundance of its corresponding putative novel miRNAs. The relative transcript level of the NRAMP4 transcript was increased from 0.107 in the wild type to 65.24 and 55.39 in transgenic plants, which demonstrates the elevated amount of iron transport in transgenic plants. In addition, up-regulation of OsYSL15, OsFRO2, and OsIRT1 in roots also facilitates iron loading in transgenic seeds.

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