Biotech Updates

CRISPR-Cas9 Reveals New Findings on miRNAs in Rice

September 19, 2018

The discovery of more microRNAs (miRNAs) and their functions is hindered by the lack of suitable knockout tools. The CRISPR-Cas9 system aided researcher Jianping Zhou of University of Electronic Science and Technology of China and colleagues in determining the functions and regulations of miRNA single genes and gene families in rice.

miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs important in plant development and stress responses. In rice, the OsMIR408 and OsMIR528 miRNA genes play roles in copper and salinity stress responses. Using single and dual-target Cas9 systems, the researchers targeted these genes and find medium to high editing efficiency by the system (48 to 89 percent). Results show altered response in the mutants, proving the genes' functions in abiotic and biotic stresses response in rice. They also find that mutating either of these genes resulted to altered expression of other miRNAs. Lastly, they demonstrated the utility of CRISPR-Cas9 in modifying miRNA gene families by targeting OsMIR815 and OsMIR820.

For more information, read the article in Frontiers in Plant Science.