Understanding the factors additional to miRNA: target complementarity that impacts mRNA-mediated silencing efficacy.
Current dogma states that gene silencing in plants is solely determined by the extent of complementarity between the small RNA and the target gene. However, we have obtained evidence that contextual factors beyond complementarity play a large role in dictating the silencing outcome (or efficacy) of a miRNA: target gene interaction. These factors could include target site accessibility or RNA binding proteins, which have been shown to be relevant in animal systems, or other currently unappreciated mechanisms.
We have projects that are trying to understand what these factors are. As this underpins how miRNAs recognise and regulate their targets, understanding these principles is required for both biotechnological and theoretically aspects of miRNA biology.
Related publications from lab.
Li J, Reichel M, Li Y and Millar AA (2014) The functional scope of plant microRNA-mediated silencing. Trends in Plant Science 19, 750-756.
Li, J, Reichel, M and Millar AA (2014) Determinants beyond both complementarity and cleavage govern miR159 efficacy in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genetics 10, e1004232.
Deveson I, Li J and Millar AA (2013) MicroRNAs with analogous target complementarities perform with highly variable efficacies in Arabidopsis. FEBS Letters 587, 3703-3708.