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Pol IV in Tomato

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Pol IV is a plant specific nuclear RNA polymerase which shares homology with Pol II, the DNA dependent RNA polymerase responsible for transcribing most genes including miRNAs. It is non-essential for viability in Arabidopsis and maize and functions in small RNA mediated gene silencing by transcribing DNA associated RNA required for small RNA production. The downstream processing involves RDR2 , DCL3 and AGO4 to produce Pol IV dependent 24nt siRNAs (p4-siRNAs). P4-siRNAs are the most abundant form of siRNAs, deriving from and targeting silencing of transposable elements, transgenes, intergenic regions and heterochromatin indicating a role for Pol IV in genome defence. In Arabidopsis endosperm p4-siRNAs are uniparentally expressed from the maternal genome, indicating additional roles for Pol IV in genomic parental conflict following fertilisation.

In Arabidopsis the Pol IV largest subunit (nrpd1a) mutant shows no morphological abnormalities, whereas the corresponding mutation in maize displays a sex determination phenotype and indicates a role for maize Pol IV in paramutation. Since tomato (Solanum lycopersicon) has a larger genome with more heterochromatic regions than Arabidopsis, it can be predicted that a tomato nrpd1a mutant will have a more striking phenotype. High throughput TILLING technology has allowed nrpd1a mutant identification and amiRNA plants targeting RDR2 and AGO4 have been developed. Analysis of these plants will help to elucidate the role of Pol IV and p4-siRNAs in Solanum lycopersicon.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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