Plant science : an international journal of experimental plant biology

miRNA778 and SUVH6 are involved in phosphate homeostasis in Arabidopsis.

PMID 26259194


microRNAs (miRNAs) play an important role in plant adaptation to phosphate (Pi) starvation. Histone methylation can remodel chromatin structure and mediate gene expression. This study identified Arabidopsis miR778, a Pi-responsive miRNA, and its target gene Su(var) 3-9 homologs 6 (SUVH6) encoding a histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methyltransferase. Overexpression of miR778 moderately enhanced primary and lateral root growth, free phosphate accumulation in shoots, and accumulation of anthocyanin under Pi deficient conditions. miR778 overexpression relieved the arrest of columella cell development under Pi starvation. Conversely, transgenic plants overexpressing a miR778-target mimic (35S::MIM778), that act as a sponge and sequesters miR778, showed opposite phenotypes of 35S::miR778 plants under Pi deficiency. Expression of several Pi deficiency-responsive genes such as miR399, Phosphate Transporter (PHT1;4), Low Phosphate-Resistant1 (LPR1) and Production of Anthocyanin Pigment 1 (PAP1) were elevated in the miR778 overexpressing plants, suggesting that both miR778 and SUVH6 are involved in phosphate homeostasis in plants. This study has provided a basis for further investigation on how SUVH6 regulates its downstream genes through chromatin remodeling and DNA methylation in plants stressed by Pi deficiency.