MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression and play critical roles in growth and development as well as stress responses in eukaryotes. miRNA biogenesis in plants requires a processing complex that consists of the core components DICER-LIKE 1 (DCL1), SERRATE (SE) and HYPONASTIC LEAVES (HYL1). Here we show that inactivation of functionally redundant members of the SnRK2 kinases, which are the core components of abscisic acid (ABA) and osmotic stress signaling pathways, leads to reduction in miRNA accumulation under stress conditions. Further analysis revealed that the steady state level of HYL1 protein in plants under osmotic stress is dependent on the SnRK2 kinases. Additionally, our results suggest that the SnRK2 kinases physically associate with the miRNA processing components SE and HYL1 and can phosphorylate these proteins in vitro. These findings reveal an important role for the SnRK2 kinases in the regulation of miRNA accumulation and establish a mechanism by which ABA and osmotic stress signaling is linked to miRNA biogenesis.
Yan, J., Wang, P., Wang, B., Hsu, C. C., Tang, K., Zhang, H., … Zhu, J. K. (2017). The SnRK2 kinases modulate miRNA accumulation in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genetics, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006753