Professor of Plant Epigenetics
School of Life Sciences, Fudan University
Binglian Zheng’s research aims to understand how small RNAs are produced and what function of small RNAs are in plant gametes. Zheng and her team apply genetic, genomic, molecular, and cytological-based approaches to study the posttranscriptional regulation of small RNA biogenesis and function machineries and the function of small RNAs enriched in pollen, including the interplay among lariat RNAs, small RNAs and silencing of transposable elements during plant reproductive development. Our research uses Arabidopsis as a model system and focuses on fundamental mechanisms in plant development and genetics that impact crop productivity and biodiversity. During past seven years, we uncover that intronic lariat RNAs and Protein Phosphatase PP4 are involved in the regulation of the miRNA biogenesis machinery (PLoS Genet 2016, Dev Cell 2017, Plant Cell 2019); we demonstrate that the cell- cycle-related proteasome E3 APC/C degrades DMS3 to monitor the activity of siRNA-directed TE silencing (PNAS 2019); we reveal that sperm cell-delivered miRNA triggers the initiation of endosperm nuclear division (Nat Commun 2018). Future work will continue to investigate how paternal small RNAs function in plant reproductive development, trying to provide basis for the application of small RNAs in plant molecular breeding.