Natural antisense transcripts (NATs) are endogenous transcripts that can form double-stranded RNA structures. Many protein-coding genes (PCs) and non-protein-coding genes (NPCs) tend to form cis-NATs and trans-NATs, respectively. In this work, we identified 4,080 cis-NATs and 2,491 trans-NATs genome-widely in Arabidopsis. Of these, 5,385 NAT-siRNAs were detected from the small RNA sequencing data. NAT-siRNAs are typically 21nt, and are processed by Dicer-like 1 (DCL1)/DCL2 and RDR6 and function in epigenetically activated situations, or 24nt, suggesting these are processed by DCL3 and RDR2 and function in environment stress. NAT-siRNAs are significantly derived from PC/PC pairs of trans-NATs and NPC/NPC pairs of cis-NATs. Furthermore, NAT pair genes typically have similar pattern of epigenetic status. Cis-NATs tend to be marked by euchromatic modifications, whereas trans-NATs tend to be marked by heterochromatic modifications.
School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University
Nanjing 210023, China