Restricted Research - Award List, Note/Discussion Page

Fiscal Year: 2021

229  University of North Texas  (84525)

Principal Investigator: Antunes,Mauricio Schusterschitz

Total Amount of Contract, Award, or Gift (Annual before 2011): $ 240,000

Exceeds $250,000 (Is it flagged?): No

Start and End Dates: - 5/31/24

Restricted Research: YES

Academic Discipline: Biological Sciences

Department, Center, School, or Institute: College of Science

Title of Contract, Award, or Gift: Establishing the biochemical determinants of microRNA long-distance mobility in plants

Name of Granting or Contracting Agency/Entity: Robert A. Welch Foundation


Program Title: N/A


The versatility of RNA can be observed in its many functions in living organisms. While many RNAs provide the genetic instructions to direct the synthesis of proteins by the cell, other non-coding RNA species may function as catalysts, sensors, signaling molecules, aminoacyl carriers, structural ribosome components, and gene expression regulators. In plants, although most RNA molecules function in a cell-autonomous manner, some small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), micro RNAs (miRNAs), and messenger RNAs (mRNAs) can move locally from cell to cell, and also over long distances by entering the plant’s vasculature. These mobile miRNAs have been shown to regulate gene expression in distinct parts of the plant. Although studies have mostly focused on the identification of these mobile miRNAs, the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that determine this long-distance transport and the fate of transported miRNAs in target tissues have not been elucidated. Therefore, the main goal of this project is to establish the biochemical features of miRNAs that determine their long-distance mobility in plants. Here, we propose to use a synthetic biology approach that takes advantage of engineered artificial miRNAs. We will test whether the presence of structural or sequence features affect the long-distance mobility of these artificial miRNAs. Furthermore, we will test whether the location of expression of artificial miRNAs also affects their mobility. Understanding the rules governing the mobility of RNA species (small or protein-coding) will help us determine the functions of these RNAs in the plant, for example as signaling molecules that elicit a response in a distant plant organ. In addition, the ability to introduce a “mobility signal” to an otherwise non-mobile RNA could lead to the development of efficient strategies for plant systemic responses against pathogens, pests or abiotic stresses.

Discussion: No discussion notes


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