Int. J. Dev. Biol. 66: 163 - 175 (2022)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.210189kk
© UPV/EHU Press

RNA silencing pathways in plant development and defense

Nikoleta Kryovrysanaki1, Anthony James1, Martha Tselika1, Eirini Bardani2, Kriton Kalantidis1,2,*

1Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 2Department of Biology, University of Crete, Voutes University Campus, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

ABSTRACT RNA silencing refers to a conserved eukaryotic process and is regarded as one of the most important processes in plants, with the ability to regulate gene expression both transcriptionally and post-transcriptionally. Different classes of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) constitute key components of the RNA silencing pathways and play pivotal roles in modulating various biological processes as well as host-pathogen interactions. One of the most extensively studied classes of ncRNAs are the 20–24 nucleotide (nt) long microRNAs (miRNAs), which are core components of the endogenous gene silencing pathway. miRNAs act as negative regulators of endogenous gene expression through either mRNA-target cleavage, translational inhibition, or DNA methylation, and are inextricably linked to a plethora of developmental processes, such as leaf pattern formation as well as abiotic and biotic stress responses. In this review, we focus on the role of the RNA silencing pathways in the regulation of developmental processes as well as in the plant responses to biotic stress.


non-coding RNAs, microRNAs, RNA interference, abiotic stress, biotic stress

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