Proper regulation of a sperm-specific cis-nat-siRNA is essential for double fertilization in Arabidopsis

Mily Ron, Monica Alandete Saez, Leor Eshed Williams, Jennifer C. Fletcher, Sheila McCormick*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Natural cis-antisense siRNAs (cis-nat-siRNAs) are a recently characterized class of small regulatory RNAs that are widespread in eukaryotes. Despite their abundance, the importance of their regulatory activity is largely unknown. The only functional role for eukaryotic cis-nat-siRNAs that has been described to date is in environmental stress responses in plants. Here we demonstrate that cis-nat-siRNA-based regulation plays key roles in Arabidopsis reproductive function, as it facilitates gametophyte formation and double fertilization, a developmental process of enormous agricultural value. We show that male gametophytic kokopelli (kpl) mutants display frequent single-fertilization events, and that KPL and a inversely transcribed gene, ARIADNE14 (ARI14), which encodes a putative ubiquitin E3 ligase, generate a sperm-specific nat-siRNA pair. In the absence of KPL, ARI14 RNA levels in sperm are increased and fertilization is impaired. Furthermore, ARI14 transcripts accumulate in several siRNA biogenesis pathway mutants, and overexpression of ARI14 in sperm phenocopies the reduced seed set of the kokopelli mutants. These results extend the regulatory capacity of cis-nat-siRNAs to development by identifying a role for cis-nat-siRNAs in controlling sperm function during double fertilization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1010-1021
Number of pages12
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number10
StatePublished - 15 May 2010


  • Embryo
  • Endosperm
  • Single fertilization
  • Small RNA
  • Ubiquitin ligase


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