Evasion of siRNA-directed antiviral silencing in Musa acuminata persistently infected with six distinct banana streak pararetroviruses

Rajeswaran, Rajendran and Seguin, Jonathan and Chabannes, Matthieu and Duroy, Pierre-Olivier and Laboureau, Nathalie and Farinelli, Laurent and Iskra-Caruana, Marie-Line and Pooggin, Mikhail. (2014) Evasion of siRNA-directed antiviral silencing in Musa acuminata persistently infected with six distinct banana streak pararetroviruses. Journal of virology, Vol. 88, H. 19. pp. 11516-11528.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6288913

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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 post-transcriptionally 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, 21-24 nt viral siRNAs accumulated at relatively high levels (up to 22% of 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 ORFs I, II and 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 persistency of pararetroviruses in banana plants. Importance 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 21-24 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 possible explanation why episomal pararetroviruses can persist in plants, while true retroviruses having an obligatory genome-integration step in their replication cycle do not exist in plants.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Pflanzenphysiologie Pathogenabwehr (Boller)
UniBasel Contributors:Pooggin, Mikhail and Seguin, Jonathan
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:10 Oct 2014 09:19
Deposited On:10 Oct 2014 09:19

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