Open Access

Identification of microRNAs potentially involved in male sterility of Brassica campestris ssp. chinensis using microRNA array and quantitative RT-PCR assays

Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal201318:97

Received: 18 January 2013

Accepted: 10 July 2013

Published: 17 July 2013


microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of newly identified, noncoding, small RNA molecules that negatively regulate gene expression. Many miRNAs are reportedly involved in plant growth, development and stress response processes. However, their roles in the sexual reproduction mechanisms in flowering plants remain unknown. Pollen development is an important process in the life cycle of a flowering plant, and it is closely related to the yield and quality of crop seeds. This study aimed to identify miRNAs involved in pollen development. A microarray assay was conducted using the known complementary sequences of plant miRNAs as probes on inflorescences of a sterile male line (Bcajh97-01A) and a fertile male line (Bcajh97-01B) of the Brassica campestris ssp. chinensis cv. ‘Aijiaohuang’ genic male sterility sister line system (Bcajh97-01A/B). The results showed that 44 miRNAs were differently expressed in the two lines. Of these, 15 had over 1.5-fold changes in their transcript levels, with 9 upregulated and 6 downregulated miRNAs in inflorescences of ‘Bcajh97-01A’ sterile line plants. We then focused on 3 of these 15 miRNAs (miR158, miR168 and miR172). Through computational methods, 13 family members were predicted for these 3 miRNAs and 22 genes were predicted to be their candidate target genes. By using 5’ modified RACE, 2 target genes of miR168 and 5 target genes of miR172 were identified. Then, qRT-PCR was applied to verify the existence and expression patterns of the 3 miRNAs in the flower buds at five developmental stages. The results were generally consistent with those of the microarray. Thus, this study may give a valuable clue for further exploring the miRNA group that may function during pollen development.

Key words

Brassica campestris Chinese cabbage Brassica rapa Microarray microRNA Pollen development Quantitative RT-PCR 5’ modified RACE Male sterile line Male fertile line