Dr. Lei Li published a paper in Plant Cell.
Plants possess unique primary cell walls made of complex polysaccharides that play critical roles in determining intrinsic cell and organ size. How genes responsible for synthesizing and modifying the polysaccharides in the cell wall are regulated by microRNAs (miRNAs) to control plant size remains largely unexplored. Here we identified 23 putative cell-wall related miRNAs, termed CW-miRNAs, in Arabidopsis thaliana and characterized miR775 as an example. We showed that miR775 post-transcriptionally silences GALT9, which encodes an endomembrane-located galactosyltransferase belonging to the glycosyltransferase 31 family. Over-expression of miR775 and deletion of GALT9 led to significantly enlarged leaf-related organs, primarily due to increased cell size. Monosaccharide quantification, confocal Raman imaging, and immunolabelling combined with atomic force microscopy (AFM) revealed that the MIR775A-GALT9 circuit modulates pectin levels and the elastic modulus of the cell wall. We also showed that MIR775A is directly repressed by the transcription factor ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL5 (HY5). Genetic analysis confirmed that HY5 is a negative regulator of leaf size that acts through the HY5-MIR775A-GALT9 repression cascade to control pectin levels. These findings demonstrate that miR775-regulated cell wall remodeling is an integral determinant of intrinsic leaf size in A. thaliana. Studying other CW-miRNAs would provide more insights into cell wall biology.