Small RNAs – secrets and surprises of the genome
Article first published online: 10 MAR 2010
© 2010 The Author. Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
The Plant Journal
Special Issue: SPECIAL ISSUE Arabidopsis: A rich harvest 10 years after completion of the genome sequence
Volume 61, Issue 6, pages 941–958, March 2010
How to Cite
Chen, X. (2010), Small RNAs – secrets and surprises of the genome. The Plant Journal, 61: 941–958. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2009.04089.x
- Issue published online: 10 MAR 2010
- Article first published online: 10 MAR 2010
- Received 31 August 2009; revised 10 November 2009; accepted 12 November 2009.
- small interfering RNAs;
- RNA silencing;
- RNA-directed DNA methylation;
Small RNAs associated with post-transcriptional gene silencing were first discovered in plants in 1999. Although this study marked the beginning of small RNA biology in plants, the sequence of the Arabidopsis genome and related genomic resources that were soon to become available to the Arabidopsis community launched the research on small RNAs at a remarkable pace. In 2000, when the genetic blueprint of the first plant species was revealed, the tens of thousands of endogenous small RNA species as we know today remained hidden features of the genome. However, the subsequent 10 years have witnessed an explosion of our knowledge of endogenous small RNAs: their widespread existence, diversity, biogenesis, mode of action and biological functions. As key sequence-specific regulators of gene expression in the nucleus and the cytoplasm, small RNAs influence almost all aspects of plant biology. Because of the extensive conservation of mechanisms concerning the biogenesis and molecular actions of small RNAs, research in the model plant Arabidopsis has contributed vital knowledge to the small RNA field in general. Our knowledge of small RNAs gained primarily from Arabidopsis has also led to the invention of effective gene knock-down technologies that are applicable to diverse plant species, including crop plants. Here, I attempt to recount the developments of the small RNA field in the pre- and post-genomic era, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the completion of the first plant genome.