Published on Jan. 11, 2005 in Science volume 307.
PubMed ID: 15705854
Methylation on the base or the ribose is prevalent in eukaryotic ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) and is thought to be crucial for ribosome biogenesis and function. Artificially introduced 2'-O-methyl groups in small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) can stabilize siRNAs in serum without affecting their activities in RNA interference in mammalian cells. Here, we show that plant microRNAs (miRNAs) have a naturally occurring methyl group on the ribose of the last nucleotide. Whereas methylation of rRNAs depends on guide RNAs, the methyltransferase protein HEN1 is sufficient to methylate miRNA/miRNA* duplexes. Our studies uncover a new and crucial step in plant miRNA biogenesis and have profound implications in the function of miRNAs.