Plants subjected to abiotic stress can regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally by means of small RNAs such as microRNAs. Cool-temperature stress causes abnormal tapetum hypertrophy in rice anthers, leading to pollen sterility. As a first step toward understanding the molecular mechanisms of cool tolerance in developing anthers of rice, we report here a comprehensive comparative analysis of microRNAs between cool-sensitive Sasanishiki and cool-tolerant Hitomebore cultivars. High-throughput Illumina sequencing revealed 241 known and 46 novel microRNAs. Interestingly, 15 of these microRNAs accumulated differentially in the two cultivars at the uninucleate microspore stage under cool conditions. Inverse correlations between expression patterns of microRNAs and their target genes were confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR analysis, and cleavage sites of some of the target genes were determined by 5' RNA ligase-mediated RACE experiments. Thus, our data are useful resources to elucidate microRNA-mediated mechanism(s) of cool tolerance in rice anthers at the booting stage.
2016 by The Genetics Society of Japan