Small RNAs and transposon silencing in plants
Article first published online: 12 DEC 2011
© 2011 The Author. Development, Growth & Differentiation © 2011 Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists
Development, Growth & Differentiation
Special Issue: RNA and Development
Volume 54, Issue 1, pages 100–107, January 2012
How to Cite
Ito, H. (2012), Small RNAs and transposon silencing in plants. Development, Growth & Differentiation, 54: 100–107. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2011.01309.x
- Issue published online: 16 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 12 DEC 2011
- Received 18 August 2011; revised 28 September 2011; accepted 28 September 2011.
Transposons are highly conserved in plants and have created a symbiotic relationship with the host genome. An important factor of the successful communication between transposons and host plants is epigenetic modifications including DNA methylation and the modifications of the histone tail. In plants, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are responsible for RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) that suppresses transposon activities. Although most transposons are silent in their host plants, certain genomic shocks, such as an environmental stress or a hybridization event, might trigger transposon activation. Further, since transposons can affect the regulation mechanisms of host genes, it is possible that transposons have co-evolved as an important mechanism for plant development and adaptation. Recent new findings reveal that siRNAs control not only transcriptional activation, but also suppress transgenerational transposition of mobile elements making siRNAs critically important towards maintaining genome stability. Together these data suggest host-mediated siRNA regulation of transposons appears to have been adapted for controlling essential systems of plant development, morphogenesis, and reproduction.