2Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119992 Moscow, Russia
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received January 25, 2021; Revised March 3, 2021; Accepted March 3, 2021
It was recently found that the primary transcripts of some microRNA genes (pri-miRNAs) are able to express peptides with 12 to 40 residues in length. These peptides, called miPEPs, participate in the transcriptional regulation of their own pri-miRNAs. In our previous studies, we used bioinformatic approach for comparative analysis of pri-miRNA sequences in plant genomes to identify a new group of miPEPs (miPEP-156a peptides) encoded by pri-miR156a in several dozen species of the Brassicaceae family. Exogenous miPEP-156a peptides could efficiently penetrate into the plant seedlings through the root system and spread systemically to the leaves. The peptides produced moderate morphological effect accelerating primary root growth. In parallel, the miPEP-156a peptides upregulated expression of their own pri-miR156a. Importantly, the observed effects at both morphological and molecular levels correlated with the peptide ability to quickly translocate into the cell nucleus and to bind chromatin. In this work, we established secondary structure of the miPEP-156a and demonstrated its changes induced by formation of the peptide complex with DNA.
KEY WORDS: microRNA, microRNA primary transcripts, translation of microRNA primary transcripts, short open reading frame, transcription regulation, protein import into the nucleus, DNA-binding peptides