Transcription and processing of primary microRNAs are coupled by Elongator complex in Arabidopsis.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs that play important regulatory roles in gene expression in plants and animals. The biogenesis of miRNAs involves the transcription of primary miRNAs (pri-miRNAs) by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) and subsequent processing by Dicer or Dicer-like (DCL) proteins. Here we show that the Elongator complex is involved in miRNA biogenesis in Arabidopsis. Disruption of Elongator reduces RNAPII occupancy at miRNA loci and pri-miRNA transcription. We also show that Elongator interacts with the DCL1-containing Dicing complex and lack of Elongator impairs DCL1 localization in the nuclear Dicing body. Finally, we show that pri-miRNA transcripts as well as DCL1 associate with the chromatin of miRNA genes and the chromatin association of DCL1 is compromised in the absence of Elongator. Our results suggest that Elongator functions in both transcription and processing of pri-miRNAs and probably couples these two processes.