Papers in the Biological Sciences



Feng Qu

Date of this Version



Published in 14732–14737, PNAS, September 23, 2008, vol. 105, no. 38. Copyright © 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA. Used by Permission


Plant RNA silencing machinery enlists four primary classes of proteins to achieve sequence-specific regulation of gene expression and mount an antiviral defense. These include Dicer-like ribonucleases (DCLs), Argonaute proteins (AGOs), dsRNA-binding proteins (DRBs), and RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RDRs). Although at least four distinct endogenous RNA silencing pathways have been thoroughly characterized, a detailed understanding of the antiviral RNA silencing pathway is just emerging. In this report, we have examined the role of four DCLs, two AGOs, one DRB, and one RDR in controlling viral RNA accumulation in infected Arabidopsis plants by using a mutant virus lacking its silencing suppressor. Our results show that all four DCLs contribute to antiviral RNA silencing. We confirm previous reports implicating both DCL4 and DCL2 in this process and establish a minor role for DCL3. Surprisingly, we found that DCL1 represses antiviral RNA silencing through negatively regulating the expression of DCL4 and DCL3. We also implicate DRB4 in antiviral RNA silencing. Finally, we show that both AGO1 and AGO7 function to ensure efficient clearance of viral RNAs and establish that AGO1 is capable of targeting viral RNAs with more compact structures, whereas AGO7 and RDR6 favor less structured RNA targets. Our results resolve several key steps in the antiviral RNA silencing pathway and provide a basis for further in-depth analysis.

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