Efficient and precise microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis in Arabidopsis is mediated by the RNaseIII-family enzyme DICER-LIKE 1 (DCL1), double-stranded RNA-binding protein HYPONASTIC LEAVES 1 and the zinc-finger (ZnF) domain-containing protein SERRATE (SE). In the present study, we examined primary miRNA precursor (pri-miRNA) processing by highly purified recombinant DCL1 and SE proteins and found that SE is integral to pri-miRNA processing by DCL1. SE stimulates DCL1 cleavage of the pri-miRNA in an ionic strength-dependent manner. SE uses its N-terminal domain to bind to RNA and requires both N-terminal and ZnF domains to bind to DCL1. However, when DCL1 is bound to RNA, the interaction with the ZnF domain of SE becomes indispensible and stimulates the activity of DCL1 without requiring SE binding to RNA. Our results suggest that the interactions among SE, DCL1 and RNA are a potential point for regulating pri-miRNA processing. 2013 The Author(s) 2013.
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