Project description:Antiviral immunity controlled by RNA interference (RNAi) in plants and animals is thought to specifically target only viral RNAs by the virus-derived small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Here we show that activation of antiviral RNAi in Arabidopsis plants is accompanied by the production of an abundant class of endogenous siRNAs mapped to the exon regions of more than 1,000 host genes and rRNA. These virus-activated siRNAs (vasiRNAs) are predominantly 21 nucleotides long with an approximately equal ratio of sense and antisense strands. Genetically, vasiRNAs are distinct from the known plant endogenous siRNAs characterized to date and instead resemble viral siRNAs by requiring Dicer-like 4 and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 1 (RDR1) for biogenesis. However, loss of exoribonuclease4/thylene-insensitive5 enhances vasiRNA biogenesis and virus resistance without altering the biogenesis of viral siRNAs. We show that vasiRNAs are active in directing widespread silencing of the target host genes and that Argonaute-2 binds to and is essential for the silencing activity of vasiRNAs. Production of vasiRNAs is readily detectable in Arabidopsis after infection by viruses from two distinct supergroups of plant RNA virus families and is targeted for inhibition by the silencing suppressor protein 2b of Cucumber mosaic virus. These findings reveal RDR1 production of Arabidopsis endogenous siRNAs and identify production of vasiRNAs to direct widespread silencing of host genes as a conserved response of plants to infection by diverse viruses. A possible function for vasiRNAs to confer broad-spectrum antiviral activity distinct to the virus-specific antiviral RNAi by viral siRNAs is discussed.
Project description:Virus infection triggers widespread silencing of host genes by a distinct class of endogenous siRNAs in Arabidopsis This study constructed and sequenced two independent small RNA libraries from the upper uninoculated leaves of (i) WT Arabidopsis plants 14 d after mock inoculation and of (ii) rdr1 rdr6 plants 14 d after infection with Fny CMV-Δ2b, and one library each from the upper uninoculated leaves of (iii) WT, (iv) rdr1, and (v) rdr6 plants 14 d after infection with TuMV-GFP. Coimmunoprecipitation with FLAG- and HA-specific antibodies was used to obtain (vi,vii) AGO1 and (viii,ix) AGO2 complexes, respectively, from the FLAG-AGO1/ago1-36 and HA-AGO2 plants 14 d after infection with Fny CMV-Δ2b for extracting total loaded small RNAs for the construction and sequencing of small RNA libraries.
Project description:Gene silencing by RNA triggers is an ancient, evolutionarily conserved, and widespread phenomenon. This process, known as RNA interference (RNAi), occurs when double-stranded RNA helices induce cleavage of their complementary mRNAs. Because these RNA molecules can be introduced exogenously as small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), RNAi has become an everyday experimental tool in laboratory research. In addition, the number of RNA-based therapeutics that are currently in clinical trials for a variety of human diseases demonstrate the therapeutic potential of RNAi. In this Account, we focus on our current understanding of the structure and function of various classes of RNAi triggers and how this knowledge has contributed to our understanding of the biogenesis and catalytic functions of siRNA and microRNA in mammalian cells. Mechanistic studies to understand the structure and function of small RNAs that induce RNAi have illuminated broad functions of the ancient RNAi machinery in animals and plants. In addition, such studies have provided insight to identify endogenous physiological gene silencing RNA triggers that engage functional machineries similar to siRNAs. Several endogenous small RNA species have been identified: small noncoding RNAs (microRNAs), piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), and endogenous siRNAs (endo-siRNAs). microRNAs are the most widespread class of small RNAs in mammalian cells. Despite their importance in biology and medicine, the molecular and cellular mechanisms of microRNA biogenesis and function are not fully understood. We provide an overview of the current understanding of how these molecules are synthesized within cells and how they act on gene targets. Interesting questions remain both for understanding the effects of modifications and editing on microRNAs and the interactions between microRNAs and other cellular RNAs such as long noncoding RNAs.
Project description:Vegetatively propagated crop plants often suffer from infections with persistent RNA and DNA viruses. Such viruses appear to evade the plant defenses that normally restrict viral replication and spread. The major antiviral defense mechanism is based on RNA silencing generating viral short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that can potentially repress viral genes posttranscriptionally through RNA cleavage and transcriptionally through DNA cytosine methylation. Here we examined the RNA silencing machinery of banana plants persistently infected with six pararetroviruses after many years of vegetative propagation. Using deep sequencing, we reconstructed consensus master genomes of the viruses and characterized virus-derived and endogenous small RNAs. Consistent with the presence of endogenous siRNAs that can potentially establish and maintain DNA methylation, the banana genomic DNA was extensively methylated in both healthy and virus-infected plants. A novel class of abundant 20-nucleotide (nt) endogenous small RNAs with 5'-terminal guanosine was identified. In all virus-infected plants, 21- to 24-nt viral siRNAs accumulated at relatively high levels (up to 22% of the total small RNA population) and covered the entire circular viral DNA genomes in both orientations. The hotspots of 21-nt and 22-nt siRNAs occurred within open reading frame (ORF) I and II and the 5' portion of ORF III, while 24-nt siRNAs were more evenly distributed along the viral genome. Despite the presence of abundant viral siRNAs of different size classes, the viral DNA was largely free of cytosine methylation. Thus, the virus is able to evade siRNA-directed DNA methylation and thereby avoid transcriptional silencing. This evasion of silencing likely contributes to the persistence of pararetroviruses in banana plants.We report that DNA pararetroviruses in Musa acuminata banana plants are able to evade DNA cytosine methylation and transcriptional gene silencing, despite being targeted by the host silencing machinery generating abundant 21- to 24-nucleotide short interfering RNAs. At the same time, the banana genomic DNA is extensively methylated in both healthy and virus-infected plants. Our findings shed light on the siRNA-generating gene silencing machinery of banana and provide a possible explanation why episomal pararetroviruses can persist in plants whereas true retroviruses with an obligatory genome-integration step in their replication cycle do not exist in plants.
Project description:In plants, RNA silencing plays a key role in antiviral defense. To counteract host defense, plant viruses encode viral suppressors of RNA silencing (VSRs) that target different effector molecules in the RNA silencing pathway. Evidence has shown that plants also encode endogenous suppressors of RNA silencing (ESRs) that function in proper regulation of RNA silencing. The possibility that these cellular proteins can be subverted by viruses to thwart host defense is intriguing but has not been fully explored. Here we report that the Nicotiana benthamiana calmodulin-like protein Nbrgs-CaM is required for the functions of the VSR ?C1, the sole protein encoded by the DNA satellite associated with the geminivirus Tomato yellow leaf curl China virus (TYLCCNV). Nbrgs-CaM expression is up-regulated by the ?C1. Transgenic plants over-expressing Nbrgs-CaM displayed developmental abnormities reminiscent of ?C1-associated morphological alterations. Nbrgs-CaM suppressed RNA silencing in an Agrobacterium infiltration assay and, when over-expressed, blocked TYLCCNV-induced gene silencing. Genetic evidence showed that Nbrgs-CaM mediated the ?C1 functions in silencing suppression and symptom modulation, and was required for efficient virus infection. Moreover, the tobacco and tomato orthologs of Nbrgs-CaM also possessed ESR activity, and were induced by betasatellite to promote virus infection in these Solanaceae hosts. We further demonstrated that ?C1-induced Nbrgs-CaM suppressed the production of secondary siRNAs, likely through repressing RNA-DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE 6 (RDR6) expression. RDR6-deficient N. benthamiana plants were defective in antiviral response and were hypersensitive to TYLCCNV infection. More significantly, TYLCCNV could overcome host range restrictions to infect Arabidopsis thaliana when the plants carried a RDR6 mutation. These findings demonstrate a distinct mechanism of VSR for suppressing PTGS through usurpation of a host ESR, and highlight an essential role for RDR6 in RNA silencing defense response against geminivirus infection.
Project description:In plants, RNA silencing-based antiviral defense is mediated by Dicer-like (DCL) proteins producing short interfering (si)RNAs. In Arabidopsis infected with the bipartite circular DNA geminivirus Cabbage leaf curl virus (CaLCuV), four distinct DCLs produce 21, 22 and 24 nt viral siRNAs. Using deep sequencing and blot hybridization, we found that viral siRNAs of each size-class densely cover the entire viral genome sequences in both polarities, but highly abundant siRNAs correspond primarily to the leftward and rightward transcription units. Double-stranded RNA precursors of viral siRNAs can potentially be generated by host RDR-dependent RNA polymerase (RDR). However, genetic evidence revealed that CaLCuV siRNA biogenesis does not require RDR1, RDR2, or RDR6. By contrast, CaLCuV derivatives engineered to target 30 nt sequences of a GFP transgene by primary viral siRNAs trigger RDR6-dependent production of secondary siRNAs. Viral siRNAs targeting upstream of the GFP stop codon induce secondary siRNAs almost exclusively from sequences downstream of the target site. Conversely, viral siRNAs targeting the GFP 3'-untranslated region (UTR) induce secondary siRNAs mostly upstream of the target site. RDR6-dependent siRNA production is not necessary for robust GFP silencing, except when viral siRNAs targeted GFP 5'-UTR. Furthermore, viral siRNAs targeting the transgene enhancer region cause GFP silencing without secondary siRNA production. We conclude that the majority of viral siRNAs accumulating during geminiviral infection are RDR1/2/6-independent primary siRNAs. Double-stranded RNA precursors of these siRNAs are likely generated by bidirectional readthrough transcription of circular viral DNA by RNA polymerase II. Unlike transgenic mRNA, geminiviral mRNAs appear to be poor templates for RDR-dependent production of secondary siRNAs.
Project description:RNA silencing is an ancient mechanism of gene regulation with important antiviral roles in plants and insects. Although induction of RNA silencing by RNA viruses has been well documented in plants, the interactions between DNA viruses and the host silencing machinery remain poorly understood. We investigate this question with cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV), a dsDNA virus that expresses its genome through the polycistronic 35S RNA, which carries an unusually extensive secondary structure known as translational leader. We show that CaMV-derived siRNAs accumulate in turnip- and Arabidopsis-infected plants and that the leader is a major, albeit not exclusive, source for those molecules. Biogenesis of leader-derived siRNA requires the coordinated and hierarchical action of the four Arabidopsis Dicer-like (DCL) proteins. Our study also uncovers a "facilitating" role exerted by the microRNA biosynthetic enzyme DCL1 on accumulation of DCL2-, DCL3-, and DCL4-dependent siRNAs derived from the 35S leader. This feature of DCL1 defines a small RNA biosynthetic pathway that might have relevance for endogenous gene regulation. Several leader-derived siRNAs were found to bear near-perfect sequence complementarity to Arabidopsis transcripts, and, using a sensor transgene, we provide direct evidence that at least one of those molecules acts as a bona fide siRNA in infected turnip. Extensive bioinformatics searches identified >100 transcripts potentially targeted by CaMV-derived siRNAs, several of which are effectively down-regulated during infection. The implications of virus-directed silencing of host gene expression are discussed.
Project description:In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, different small RNA-dependent gene silencing mechanisms act in the germline to initiate transgenerational gene silencing. Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) can initiate transposon and gene silencing by acting upstream of endogenous short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which engage a nuclear RNA interference (RNAi) pathway to trigger transcriptional gene silencing. Once gene silencing has been established, it can be stably maintained over multiple generations without the requirement of the initial trigger and is also referred to as RNAe or paramutation. This heritable silencing depends on the integrity of the nuclear RNAi pathway. However, the exact mechanism by which silencing is maintained across generations is not understood. Here we demonstrate that silencing of piRNA targets involves the production of two distinct classes of small RNAs with different genetic requirements. The first class, secondary siRNAs, are localized close to the direct target site for piRNAs. Nuclear import of the secondary siRNAs by the Argonaute HRDE-1 leads to the production of a distinct class of small RNAs that map throughout the transcript, which we term tertiary siRNAs. Both classes of small RNAs are necessary for full repression of the target gene and can be maintained independently of the initial piRNA trigger. Consistently, we observed a form of paramutation associated with tertiary siRNAs. Once paramutated, a tertiary siRNA generating allele confers dominant silencing in the progeny regardless of its own transmission, suggesting germline-transmitted siRNAs are sufficient for multigenerational silencing. This work uncovers a multi-step siRNA amplification pathway that promotes germline integrity via epigenetic silencing of endogenous and invading genetic elements. In addition, the same pathway can be engaged in environmentally induced heritable gene silencing and could therefore promote the inheritance of acquired traits.
Project description:Like other eukaryotes, plants use DICER-LIKE (DCL) proteins as the central enzymes of RNA silencing, which regulates gene expression and mediates defense against viruses. But why do plants like Arabidopsis express four DCLs, a diversity unmatched by other kingdoms? Here we show that two nuclear DNA viruses (geminivirus CaLCuV and pararetrovirus CaMV) and a cytoplasmic RNA tobamovirus ORMV are differentially targeted by subsets of DCLs. DNA virus-derived small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) of specific size classes (21, 22 and 24 nt) are produced by all four DCLs, including DCL1, known to process microRNA precursors. Specifically, DCL1 generates 21 nt siRNAs from the CaMV leader region. In contrast, RNA virus infection is mainly affected by DCL4. While the four DCLs are partially redundant for CaLCuV-induced mRNA degradation, DCL4 in conjunction with RDR6 and HEN1 specifically facilitates extensive virus-induced silencing in new growth. Additionally, we show that CaMV infection impairs processing of endogenous RDR6-derived double-stranded RNA, while ORMV prevents HEN1-mediated methylation of small RNA duplexes, suggesting two novel viral strategies of silencing suppression. Our work highlights the complexity of virus interaction with host silencing pathways and suggests that DCL multiplicity helps mediate plant responses to diverse viral infections.
Project description:MicroRNA (miRNA) and endogenous small interfering RNA (endo-siRNA) are two essential classes of small noncoding RNAs (sncRNAs) in eukaryotes. The class of miRNA is diverse and there exist noncanonical miRNAs that bypass the canonical miRNA biogenesis pathway. In order to identify noncanonical miRNAs and endo-siRNAs responding to virus infection and study their potential function, we sequenced small-RNA species from cells lytically infected with murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68). In addition to three novel canonical miRNAs in mouse, two antisense miRNAs in virus and 25 novel noncanonical miRNAs, including miRNAs derived from transfer RNAs, small nucleolar RNAs and introns, in the host were identified. These noncanonical miRNAs exhibited features distinct from that of canonical miRNAs in lengths of hairpins, base pairings and first nucleotide preference. Many of the novel miRNAs are conserved in mammals. Besides several known murine endo-siRNAs detected by the sequencing profiling, a novel locus in the mouse genome was identified to produce endo-siRNAs. This novel endo-siRNA locus is comprised of two tandem inverted B4 short interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs). Unexpectedly, the SINE-derived endo-siRNAs were found in a variety of sequencing data and virus-infected cells. Moreover, a murine miRNA was up-regulated more than 35 fold in infected than in mock-treated cells. The putative targets of the viral and the up-regulated murine miRNAs were potentially involved in processes of gene transcription and protein phosphorylation, and localized to membranes, suggesting their potential role in manipulating the host basal immune system during lytic infection. Our results extended the number of noncanonical miRNAs in mammals and shed new light on their potential functions of lytic infection of MHV68.