Strontium (Sr) is an emerging environmental pollutant that has become a major global concern after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. Although many studies have demonstrated the harmful effects of Sr on plant growth and development at the physiological level, knowledge regarding how plants sense and respond to Sr stress at the molecular level is limited. Recent studies have suggested that microRNAs (miRNAs) function as key regulators of plant growth and development as well as in the responses of plants to environmental stresses, including salinity, drought, cold, nutrient starvation, and heavy metals. In this study, we examined the global expression profile of miRNAs under Sr stress using small RNA sequencing analysis in Arabidopsis to better understand the molecular basis of plant responses to Sr stress. To identify specific Sr-responsive miRNAs, we performed comparative miRNA expression profiling analysis using control, CaCl2-, and SrCl2-treated seedlings. Compared to the control treatment, the expressions of most miRNAs were considerably decreased in the Sr-treated seedlings. However, under Sr stress, the expressions of primary miRNAs (pri-miRNAs) and their target genes were significantly increased; the protein levels of HYPONASTIC LEAVES 1 (HYL1), one of the core components of the microprocessor complex, were strongly reduced despite the increased HYL1 mRNA expression. In addition, hyl1-2 mutant plants were shown to be more sensitive to Sr stress than wild-type plants. Collectively, our results strongly suggested that Sr stress may be associated with the disruption of miRNA biogenesis by reducing the protein level of HYL1, which is required to maintain proper growth and development for plants. Our findings further indicated that some miRNAs may play important roles in plant responses to Sr stress.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Projects [grant number NRF-2015M2A2B2034284 ] funded by Ministry of Science and ICT , South Korea; and the Korea Environment Industry & Technology Institute ( KEITI ) through its Ecological Imitation-based Environmental Pollution Management Technology Development Project funded by the Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) [grant number 2019002800003 ], South Korea.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis