Chromatin remodelling factors (CHRs) typically function to alter chromatin structure. CHRs also reside in ribonucleoprotein complexes, but little is known about their RNA-related functions. Here we show that CHR2 (also known as BRM), the ATPase subunit of the large switch/sucrose non-fermentable (SWI/SNF) complex, is a partner of the Microprocessor component Serrate (SE). CHR2 promotes the transcription of primary microRNA precursors (pri-miRNAs) while repressing miRNA accumulation in vivo. Direct interaction with SE is required for post-transcriptional inhibition of miRNA accumulation by CHR2 but not for its transcriptional activity. CHR2 can directly bind to and unwind pri-miRNAs and inhibit their processing, and this inhibition requires the remodelling and helicase activity of CHR2 in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the secondary structures of pri-miRNAs differed between wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana and chr2 mutants. We conclude that CHR2 accesses pri-miRNAs through SE and remodels their secondary structures, preventing downstream processing by DCL1 and HYL1. Our study uncovers pri-miRNAs as a substrate of CHR2, and an additional regulatory layer upstream of Microprocessor activity to control miRNA accumulation.
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