Indexed on: 22 Aug '03Published on: 22 Aug '03Published in: Nature
Plants with altered microRNA metabolism have pleiotropic developmental defects, but direct evidence for microRNAs regulating specific aspects of plant morphogenesis has been lacking. In a genetic screen, we identified the JAW locus, which produces a microRNA that can guide messenger RNA cleavage of several TCP genes controlling leaf development. MicroRNA-guided cleavage of TCP4 mRNA is necessary to prevent aberrant activity of the TCP4 gene expressed from its native promoter. In addition, overexpression of wild-type and microRNA-resistant TCP variants demonstrates that mRNA cleavage is largely sufficient to restrict TCP function to its normal domain of activity. TCP genes with microRNA target sequences are found in a wide range of species, indicating that microRNA-mediated control of leaf morphogenesis is conserved in plants with very different leaf forms.