A novel hypoxic stress-responsive long non-coding RNA transcribed by RNA polymerase III in Arabidopsis

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Abstract

Recently, a large number of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been found in a wide variety of organisms, but their biological functions are poorly understood, except for several tiny RNAs. To identify novel ncRNAs with essential functions in flowering plants, we focused attention on RNA polymerase III (Pol III) and its transcriptional activity, because most Pol III-t ranscribed RNAs contribute to key processes relating to cell activities, and have highly conserved promoter elements: upstream sequence elements, a TATA-like sequence, and a poly(T) stretch as a transcription terminator. After in silico prediction from the Arabidopsis genome, 20 novel ncRNAs candidates were obtained. AtR8 RNA (approx. 260 nt) and AtR18 RNA (approx. 160 nt) were identified by efficient in vitro transcription by Pol III in tobacco nuclear extracts. AtR8 RNA was conserved among six additional taxa of Brassicaceae, and the secondary structure of the RNA was also conserved among the orthologs. Abundant accumulation of AtR8 RNA was observed in the plant roots and cytosol of cultured cells. The RNA was not processed into a smaller fragment and no short open reading frame was included. Remarkably, expression of the AtR8 RNA responded negatively to hypoxic stress, and this regulation evidently differed from that of U6 snRNA.

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