Superoxide dismutases (SODs) are metallo-enzymes that catalyze the dismutation of superoxide radicals. In Arabidopsis thaliana, the expression of CuZn-SOD in both the chloroplast and cytosol was reported to be down-regulated by microRNA398 (miR398) during growth on low copper. The moss Physcomitrella patens contains chloroplastic and cytosolic CuZn-SOD genes, but lacks miR398. From analysis of P. patens microRNA, miR1073 was predicted to target CuZn-SOD mRNAs. We noticed that two chloroplastic CuZn-SOD genes contain the miR1073 target sequence in the 3′ UTR region; however, cytosolic isozyme genes lack this sequence. In this study, we investigated the involvement of miR1073 in the expression of CuZn-SOD genes in P. patens. When protonemata of P. patens were cultured on a copper-depleted medium, SOD activity and mRNA levels of chloroplastic CuZn-SODs were decreased markedly. In contrast, cytosolic CuZn-SODs showed little or no change in mRNA levels or SOD activity. The precursor transcript and the mature form of miR1073 were induced by copper deficiency. The chloroplastic CuZn-SOD (PpCSD1) mRNA was cleaved at the miR1073 target site under copper deficiency. These results suggest that miR1073 is involved in the down-regulation of PpCSD1 expression.
In addition to PpCSD1 mRNA, antisense RNAs of PpCSD1 were also detected under normal conditions; however, under copper deficiency, they were cleaved within the ORF region. The cleavage of sense PpCSD1 mRNA was also detected within the ORF region. Although only miR1073 exists in the database, it is presumed that RNA cleavage, other than that mediated by miR1073, is involved in the regulation of PpCSD1 expression.