MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous regulators of a broad range of physiological processes and act by either degrading mRNA or blocking its translation. Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) is one of the most important crops in China, Europe and other Asian countries with publicly available expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and genomic survey sequence (GSS) databases, but little is known about its miRNAs and their targets. To date, only 46 miRNAs have been identified in B. napus.
Forty-one conserved and 62 brassica-specific candidate B. napus miRNAs, including 20 miRNA* sequences, were identified using Solexa sequencing technology. Furthermore, 33 non-redundant mRNA targets of conserved brassica miRNAs and 19 new non-redundant mRNA targets of novel brassica-specific miRNAs were identified by genome-scale sequencing of mRNA degradome.
This study describes large scale cloning and characterization of B. napus miRNAs and their potential targets, providing the foundation for further characterization of miRNA function in the regulation of diverse physiological processes in B. napus.