Crop Biotech Update

Micro RNA's Role in Stem Cell Determination

May 20, 2011

A team of scientists at Texas AgriLife Research Team has elucidated the possible mechanism on how meristems at the stem lead to develop fruit, seed and leaves. The research team led by Xiuren Zhang studied the model plant Arabidopsis focusing on the gene argonaute 10 or AGO10, which is involved in regulating meristem cell development. The exact mechanism on how the gene functions was demonstrated upon discovering that AGO10 interacts with miR166/165, a small RNA molecule or microRNA (usually 20 bases in the length) that regulates expression.

The report published in the journal Cell showed that if miR166/165 did not interact with AGO10, or the AGO10 gene was missing, the meristem part of the plant would be deformed. But if miR166/165 interact with another AGO protein like AGO1, the plant would shut the target genes and their expression. AGO10 interaction with the microRNA thus functions as a decoy to prevent the interaction of miR166/165 into other genes that would be inhibitory to the correct development of the meristem area cells.

The original article can be viewed at