Differential expression networks and inheritance patterns of long non-coding RNAs in castor bean seeds.Plant J. 2018 07; 95(2):324-340.PJ
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) serve as versatile regulators of plant growth and development. The potential functions and inheritance patterns of lncRNAs, as well as the epigenetic regulation of lncRNA itself, remain largely uncharacterized in plant seeds, especially in the persistent endosperm of the dicotyledons. In this study, we investigated diverse RNA-seq data and catalogued 5356 lncRNAs in castor bean seeds. A small fraction of lncRNAs were transcribed from the same direction as the promoters of protein-coding genes (PCgenes) and exhibited strongly coordinated expression with the nearby PCgene. Co-expression analysis with weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) showed these lncRNAs to be involved in differential transcription networks between the embryo and endosperm in the early developing seed. Genomic DNA methylation analyses revealed that the expression level of lncRNAs was tightly linked to DNA methylation and that endosperm hypomethylation could promote the expression of linked lncRNAs. Intriguingly, upon hybridization, most lncRNAs with divergent genome sequences between two parents could be reconciled and were expressed according to their parental genome contribution; however, some deviation in the expression of allelic lncRNAs was observed and found to be partially dependent on parental effects. In triploid endosperm, the expression of most lncRNAs was not dosage sensitive, as only 20 lncRNAs had balanced dosage. Our findings not only demonstrate that lncRNAs play potential roles in regulating the development of castor bean endosperm and embryo, but also provide novel insights into the parental effects, allelic expression and epigenetic regulation of lncRNAs in dicotyledonous seeds.