A Collection of Target Mimics for Comprehensive Analysis of MicroRNA Function in <em>Arabidopsis thaliana</em>

<div><p>Many targets of plant microRNAs (miRNAs) are thought to play important roles in plant physiology and development. However, because plant miRNAs are typically encoded by medium-size gene families, it has often been difficult to assess their precise function. We report the generation of a large-scale collection of knockdowns for <em>Arabidopsis thaliana</em> miRNA families; this has been achieved using artificial miRNA target mimics, a recently developed technique fashioned on an endogenous mechanism of miRNA regulation. Morphological defects in the aerial part were observed for ∼20% of analyzed families, all of which are deeply conserved in land plants. In addition, we find that non-cleavable mimic sites can confer translational regulation in cis. Phenotypes of plants expressing target mimics directed against miRNAs involved in development were in several cases consistent with previous reports on plants expressing miRNA–resistant forms of individual target genes, indicating that a limited number of targets mediates most effects of these miRNAs. That less conserved miRNAs rarely had obvious effects on plant morphology suggests that most of them do not affect fundamental aspects of development. In addition to insight into modes of miRNA action, this study provides an important resource for the study of miRNA function in plants.</p> </div>

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