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Biogenesis of phased siRNAs on membrane-bound polysomes in Arabidopsis


Small RNAs are central players in RNA silencing, yet their cytoplasmic compartmentalization and the effects it may have on their activities have not been studied at the genomic scale. Here we report that Arabidopsis microRNAs (miRNAs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are distinctly partitioned between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and cytosol. All miRNAs are associated with membrane-bound polysomes (MBPs) as opposed to polysomes in general. The MBP association is functionally linked to a deeply conserved and tightly regulated activity of miRNAs - production of phased siRNAs (phasiRNAs) from select target RNAs. The phasiRNA precursor RNAs, thought to be noncoding, are on MBPs and are occupied by ribosomes in a manner that supports miRNA-triggered phasiRNA production, suggesting that ribosomes on the rough ER impact siRNA biogenesis. This study reveals global patterns of cytoplasmic partitioning of small RNAs and expands the known functions of ribosomes and ER.

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