Involvement of miR528 in the Regulation of Arsenite Tolerance in Rice (Oryza sativa L.)

Tens of miRNAs were previously established as being arsenic (As) stress responsive in rice. However, their functional role in As tolerance remains unclear. This study demonstrates that transgenic plants overexpressing miR528 (Ubi::MIR528) were more sensitive to arsenite [As­(III)] compared with wild-type (WT) rice. Under normal and stress conditions, miR528-5p and -3p were highly up-regulated in both the roots and leaves of transgenic plants, which exhibited a negative correlation with the expression of seven target genes. Compared with WT plants, Ubi::MIR528 plants showed excessive oxidative stress generation and remarkable amino acid content changes in the roots and leaves upon As­(III) exposure. Notably, the expression profiles of diverse functional genes were clearly different between WT and transgenic plants. Thus, the observed As­(III) sensitivity of Ubi::MIR528 plants was likely due to the strong alteration of antioxidant enzyme activity and amino acid profiles and the impairment of the As­(III) uptake, translocation, and tolerance systems of rice.