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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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A new mechanism for regulating gene expression in plants in response to stress?

A new mechanism for regulating gene expression in plants in response to stress?
Six researchers from the Genome and Plant Development Laboratory (UMR 5096 - CNRS / UPVD) which joined recently TULIP, show in an article published in the Nucleic Acids Research journal that an enzyme involved in RNA metabolism can be controlled by reduction–oxidation reaction.

Produced from the joint work of two LGDP teams led by Julio Sáez-Vásquez and Jean-Philippe Reichheld and by two post-docs - Cyril Charbonnel and Adnan K. Niazi - this article shows for the first time that RNase III enzymes, which are significant players in RNA metabolism, can be regulated by redox reactions in a model plant.


Predicted structure of a homodimer of RTL1. The RNaseIII domains of two RTL1s are represented in orange and green (RNAseIII-1 and RNAseIII-2) and the RNA binding domains in white (DRB-1 and DRB-2). Cysteine 230 (Cys230) is indicated in yellow.

In fact, RNase III family enzymes are capable of cutting double-stranded RNA, an essential step to regulate the treatment of a large number of RNAs such as mRNAs, rRNAs, snoRNAs as well as certain small RNAs including siRNAs and miRNAs. In the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, one of these RNases III - named RTL1 - binds and specifically cleaves siRNA double-stranded precursor RNAs.
It is worth noting that an amino acid (designated C230 cysteine) located in the RNA binding domain, is sensitive to changes in the cellular redox state (redox), whether or not to allow cleavage of the RNA.

Environnemental regulation

The cellular redox state is controlled by environmental factors such as temperature, light or pathogens. It acts as a sensor of environmental changes that will be relayed to key enzymes of RNA metabolism and thus to gene expression.



In this model, the environment determines the cellular redox state, which regulates the activity of RNAses III RTL1 and Dicer. This could impact the accumulation of small RNAs and thereby gene expression.

Interestingly, this "on/off" mechanism described in Arabidopsis thalianacould be found in other organisms because the amino acid regulated by oxidation-reduction reactions is conserved in other monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants of agronomic interest (vine, peas, corn, beans, rice, tomato).

See also

Cyril Charbonnel, Adnan K. Niazi et al. The siRNA suppressor RTL1 is redox-regulated through glutathionylation of a conserved cysteine in the double-stranded-RNA-binding domain Nucleic Acids Research (2017) doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx82